Mobile Networks Tested And Ranked, Who's Fastest?

When it comes to the biggest wireless networks in the United States, we have four major players (ranked by size): Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. While all four wireless carriers offer "nationwide" coverage, the quality and speed of that service really depends on where you live.

For those that are looking to choose a wireless carrier -- either after moving to a new part of the country, or if you're just simply looking to make a switch to take advantage of some hot promotions -- PC Magazine has conducted an extensive number of speed tests featuring the four major wireless carriers across 30 of the largest population centers in America. 

wireless abstract

In the 2018 edition of the Fastest Mobile Networks test, peak data speeds have increased 50 percent compared to last year from 200Mbps to over 300Mbps. In addition, average download speeds have edged up by about 10Mbps, while latency continues to improve across the board. 

Considering that 4G LTE coverage is pretty much a given in most heavily-populated parts of the country, you can expect to get achieve download speeds of at least 20Mbps on average. For me personally, connecting via AT&T's LTE network, I'm maxing out at roughly 136Mbps (via Speedtest) in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area.

We won't delve into every single one of the 30 U.S. cities featured in this year's roundup, but here's a little taste of what you can expect. When it comes to pure speed, Verizon came out on top nationwide, followed closely by T-Mobile. AT&T came in third with Sprint pulling up the rear. Verizon's first-place showing should come as no surprise given that the company placed first in 5 out of 6 regional speed tests (T-Mobile managed to snagged top honors in the Southeast region).

For more on the testing methodology, what devices were used, what to expect when carriers begin lighting up 5G, and how each of the 30 cities stacked up, we highly encourage you to head on over to PC Magazine and peruse all the well-researched data.