Verizon, T-Mobile Get High Marks for Airport Mobile Coverage

When it came to the RootScore awards across all 50 airports, Verizon came out on top with 25 awards, followed by T-Mobile with 16.

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Travelers in the Atlanta airport are likely to have a better mobile service experience than those in Los Angeles’ airport, according to a report from RootMetrics.

The company’s mobile performance rankings of the 50 busiest airports in the U.S. place Southwest Florida International at the top, followed by Sacramento International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Dallas Love Field, and Logan International.

When it came to the RootScore awards across all 50 airports, Verizon came out on top with 25 awards, followed by T-Mobile with 16, AT&T in a close third with 15, and Sprint placing fourth with three.

"As you know, airports are typically busy environments. Large influxes of travelers can put stress on mobile networks, impacting reliability, data speeds, and overall performance," Annette Hamilton, a RootMetrics director, told eWEEK. "In addition, an airport’s mobile infrastructure and even building materials can affect how well a mobile network performs. For example, consider Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – the second busiest airport in the country."

Hamilton said LAX ranked 48 out of 50 when it came to mobile performance, explaining data speeds at LAX were very low compared to other airports in the country, with a top median download speed of just 2.7 Mbps, on Verizon.

"Relatively speaking, it is an older airport and certainly wasn’t originally designed for peak mobile performance," she said. "At that speed it would generally take more than 30 minutes to download a TV show on the network."

Compare that to Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL), the busiest airport in the country, where the top median download speed was a blazingly fast 41.3 Mbps, also on Verizon.

"At that speed your TV show would download in less than three minutes," Hamilton explained. "This suggests that more investment has gone into the ATL mobile infrastructure than that of LAX."

Another example of an airport that has seen material improvements in performance is Chicago’s O’Hare International (ORD), where RootMetrics saw significant performance improvements, especially in network reliability and data speeds from all four carriers, but most notably by Sprint.

As a result of overall improved performance, the airport jumped up in the rankings from 31st out of 50 to seventh.

Hamilton said it is also worth noting that O’Hare is where RootMetrics recorded the largest increase in median download speed from any carrier, with Sprint’s increase from 4.1Mbps to 22.4 Mbps.

"We anticipate that carriers will continue to invest and make improvements in metros, and the airports associated with those metros," she said. "Of course, carriers don’t share their business plans with us so we can’t say how quickly and where these investments will happen."