T-Mobile has moved into third place among the big four cellular carriers in the United States, while Sprint has fallen to the number four spot, according to the results of new tests performed by RootMetrics, an independent mobile analytics firm.
Still in the number-one and number-two spots in the rankings are Verizon Wireless and AT&T, according to the tests by the Bellevue, Wash.-based company.
The results were collected by RootMetrics in the first half of 2014 through 5,636,222 cellular call tests in 6,499 indoor locations and across some 234,715 miles of driving, according to the company.
The latest half-year figures showed an improvement for T-Mobile, which came in dead last in the same tests conducted in the second half of 2013.
The overall performance figures for the four carriers for the first half of 2014 are Verizon with a rating of 81.6 out of 100, followed by AT&T at 79.5, T-Mobile at 71.5 and Sprint, at 69.6.
That compared with overall performance figures from the second half of 2013, with Verizon at 89.7 out of 100, AT&T at 86.2, Sprint at 68.2 and T-Mobile at 64.3. Those figures were compiled in the second half of 2013 through 4,666,641 cellular call tests in some 6,346 indoor locations and across about 217,768 miles of driving, RootMetrics announced.
The company says it does its testing of mobile network performance from a consumer's point of view to provide objective, accurate and unbiased assessments of performance. The RootMetrics testing involves driving and on-location visits in some 125 metropolitan areas where cellular coverage, speed and connection reliability can be evaluated for the four major U.S. wireless carriers.
The RootMetrics testing also provided performance rankings for individual categories, including cellular reliability, speed, data performance and texting performance.
In those rankings for the first half of 2014, Verizon had the score for reliability at 83.4 out of 100, compared with 82.1 for AT&T, 73.8 for Sprint and 73.0 for T-Mobile, according to the results.
Those figures compare with similar numbers from the second half of 2013, where Verizon scored 89.8, compared with AT&T at 84.9, Sprint at 65.2 and T-Mobile at 57.1.
Speed index figures for the first half of 2014 have Verizon at 75.7 out of 100, AT&T at 71.1, T-Mobile at 64.4 and Sprint at 54.2. That compares with the second half of 2013, when AT&T topped the chart at 88.7 out of 100, followed by Verizon at 88.5, T-Mobile at 74.3 and Sprint at 65.8.
In the data performance rankings, Verizon came in at 81.5 in the first half of 2014, followed by AT&T at 78.1, T-Mobile at 67.1 and Sprint at 63.7. Those numbers compared with scores in the second half of 2013 for Verizon of 87.3, followed by AT&T at 83.9, Sprint at 51.2 and T-Mobile at 48.7.
The call performance category for the first half of 2014 was led by Verizon at 82.0 points out of 100, followed by AT&T at 80.5, T-Mobile at 74.4 and Sprint at 73.6. In the second half of 2013, those rankings had Verizon at 91.9 out of 100, followed by AT&T at 86.6, Sprint at 79.6 and T-Mobile at 74.1, according to RootMetrics figures.
In the texting performance category, AT&T led the big four in the first half of 2014 with a score of 81.2 out of 100, followed by Verizon at 80.4, Sprint at 78.8 and T-Mobile at 78.4. That compared with scores in the second half of 2013 of 94.7 for Verizon, 94.3 for AT&T, 92.8 for Sprint and 90.1 for T-Mobile.
Test results announced in March 2013 showed that AT&T's 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network speed was clocked at 18.6 megabits per second by RootMetrics, outpacing Verizon's mark of 14.3M bps for LTE-only downloads.