Mobile networks are not all created equal, despite the fact that if you look at coverage maps they often boast nearly identical coverage in many areas. Each year OpenSignal issues a report that looks at all the mobile carriers in the U.S. and compares the speed and performance offered to help consumers look through all the hype and marketing and see which carrier really is the fastest.
According to the latest report, both Verizon and AT&T have stopped the declining performance on their networks that were attributed to the return of unlimited data plans. Both networks have returned to their pre-unlimited plan speeds as of the end of 2017. However, that doesn't mean either of the networks is at the top of the rankings.
OpenSignal wrote, "T-Mobile established itself as the dominant operator in speed, and won nearly every OpenSignal performance award in the 4th quarter."
In the report issued last year, both Verizon and T-Mobile were tied in LTE speed, but T-Mobile has now clearly pulled ahead. T-Mobile's LTE download speeds averaged 19.4 Mbps in Q4 measurements performed by OpenSignal compared to the Verizon average speed of 17.8 Mbps. The only award that T-Mobile didn’t take in the report was for 4G latency. AT&T won in that metric beating out T-Mobile, which held that spot previously. AT&T had an LTE network ping time of 58.3 milliseconds.
T-Mobile swept the remaining five metrics winning the top spot in each category. T-Mobile had the fastest 4G download speed, fastest 3G download speed, fastest overall download speed, fastest 3G latency, and best 4G availability. AT&T is the only of the four major carriers, other than T-Mobile, to win an award in this year's report.
OpenSignal has a massive sample size of 5,928,296,946 measurements taken across 237,213 devices from October 1 through December 20, 2017. T-Mobile is also working hard to make data speeds even faster, the carrier has LTE-Advanced networks operating in 920 markets.