1Ookla Performs Reality Check on Major Mobile Network Data Speeds
Mobile service provides like to brag about how fast their networks are. That’s because the mobile network that can claim to deliver the speediest networks will shamelessly use it as a tool to win new customers. But for a reality check, independent researcher Ookla conducted a study during the first half of 2017 that analyzed mobile carrier speeds and connection reliability. The company’s data discusses which U.S. carriers offer the fastest speeds and, generally speaking, what kinds of connections Americans can expect. The study is aimed at helping folks determine which carriers offer the best mobile experience to the greatest number of customers. Obviously, the Ookla results won’t reflect actual network performance in every location across the country. Thus, your personal experience may vary.
2U.S. Market Mobile Networks Are Speedy in General
3T-Mobile’s Network Is Surprisingly Fast
Next, Ookla examined each carrier’s network performance. The company found that T-Mobile had the fastest average download speed nationwide, with 23.17Mbps download speeds. According to Ookla, T-Mobile’s success is due in part to a tight grid of cellular sites and a smaller subscriber base hitting the network than Verizon or AT&T.
4Verizon Is Closing In
5Sprint’s Performance Was Markedly Lower
Sprint was the biggest disappointment in the Ookla study. Its network generated an average of 15.39Mbps download speeds. As low as that might seem, Sprint’s download speeds were actually up 23.7 percent compared to the prior year, according to Ookla, thanks to increased investments in its network infrastructure.
6AT&T Placed Third Among the Big Four Networks
7Ookla Tests Performance With iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S7
Ookla also tested how the carriers performed with popular devices including the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7. Again, T-Mobile was tops, with average download speeds of 25.51Mbps on the iPhone 7 and 27.36 on Samsung’s device. Verizon was stable, with speeds of 23.66Mbps and 23.99Mbps on the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7, respectively. AT&T’s speeds hovered around 23Mbps on both devices. Sprint came in last, with iPhone 7 speeds of 17.09Mbps and Galaxy S7 speeds of 20.66Mbps.
8Network Performance Varies in Different Locations
As Ookla noted, speeds can vary depending on where users connect to networks. In big cities, for instance, T-Mobile’s average download speed was 23.5Mbps, just topping Verizon’s 23.21Mbps. AT&T came in third place in metropolitan areas, with 21.17Mbps download speeds. Sprint brought up the rear, with 16.2Mbps speeds.
9Ookla Assigns an Acceptable Performance Threshold
Ookla noted speed can vary depending on where people are, so it assigned an “acceptable” download threshold of 5Mbps across the country. It found that T-Mobile was able to keep a steady 5Mbps in 78.1 percent of cases, just topping Verizon’s 77.8 percent. Verizon was tops in metropolitan markets, with 79.8 percent. T-Mobile and AT&T followed with 77.9 percent and 76.5 percent, respectively. Sprint could hold 5Mbps speeds two-thirds of the time.
10How Unlimited Data Plans Affected Network Performance
Earlier this year, the big carriers widely offered unlimited data plans to customers, and Ookla wanted to know if those plans affected download speeds. Ookla found more customers experienced speeds less than 5Mbps on Verizon and AT&T networks after the Unlimited plans were implemented. T-Mobile and Sprint, meanwhile, have fewer customers with slow download speeds when compared to before offering unlimited plans.
11It Wasn’t All Bad News for Sprint
Sprint was hit hard in the Ookla study, with reports of low data speeds and poor performance. But it wasn’t all bad. The company’s speeds are improving and Sprint claims it actually delivers faster speeds than its competitors in five markets. While that amount is far behind T-Mobile’s count of 40 and Verizon’s 35, Sprint appears to be moving in the right direction.