Best US carrier? This Verizon vs AT&T vs T-Mobile vs Sprint coverage maps GIF tells all

The latest LTE coverage maps show why T-Mobile's trolling of Verizon on 'average speeds' is not all there is to it

The latest LTE coverage maps show why T-Mobile's trolling of Verizon on 'average speeds' is not all there is to it


The second we read that Verizon has earned third place in average LTE network speeds according to Ookla's crowd-sourced measurements, we knew what was coming from T-Mobile, and, soon enough, its CTO Neville Ray took to a blog post to comment condescendingly on the matter. After all, it topped the average speeds for a 14th quarter in a row, while Verizon slipped to a third place. T-Mobile's CTO didn't hold back, explaining how Verizon and AT&T networks "caved" under the unlimited pressure:


Not so fast, though. The average speeds are rather close, plus a different study that doesn't involve crowd-sourced metrics, but actual driving around the US, puts Verizon slightly ahead of T-Mobile in its turn. Let's say, though, for the sake of the argument, that T-Mobile's network is now indeed 15% or so faster than Verizon's on average. Most of it can be explained by the sheer amount of subscribers that Verizon has compared to T-Mobile, but even then speed is not all there is to it. According to a rebuttal by Verizon's spokesman Howard Waterman:


That last point places a gaping hole in T-Mobile's argumentation. A recent market study showed that subscribers value most carrier network reliability and performance, then cost, and last come the unlimited data options which every carrier is offering now. While T-Mobile may have gotten the performance part right, the reliability (read: coverage) aspect is still a work in progress compared to Verizon, and T-Mo already started pumping its pricing a bit to cover the costs of its breakneck expansion. Now that Verizon's and T-Mobile's family plan offerings are practically even in terms of pricing, one only needs to look at the coverage maps GIF above that we made to see who blankets more places from coast to coast and in-between. 

Granted, this is still crowd-sourced data, courtesy of OpenSignal, but so is the report that T-Mobile used to boast the other day. On the other hand, this GIF pretty much sums up why AT&T and Verizon are still the ones laughing all the way to the bank when the big four announce their quarterly profits. What's your take, speed or coverage, and why is the Nevada desert so left behind?

source: OpenSignal (coverage maps) & FierceWireless

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51 Comments

1. disatrousrainbow

Posts: 64; Member since: Oct 24, 2015

While I don't doubt T-Mobile's coverage has gotten better, especially in larger metropolitan areas, it's still not the carrier of choice for rural areas (which combined make up a huge chunk of people) or if you truly want to feel like you're covered *everywhere.* There are huge chunks of the I-80 (one is a two hour stretch I drive often) T-Mobile hasn't hit yet that Verizon's covered for years. Taking that into account along with how much more traffic there is on Verizon's network, and with the fact the network is unlimited, personally for me their speeds being a two or three Mbps slower doesn't bother me at all.

17. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I read a similar article to this (a gif of how T-Mobile's coverage has expanded since 2015 to now) and they showed me as being in a partner covered area. Up til now, if the area you lived in wasn't covered by T-Mobile themselves, you couldn't get service with them. I called T-Mobile to ask them about the situation and they said you can now get service with them even if you're in a partner covered area, but you'll have limited coverage and be limited to HSPA (not HSPA+ or LTE). When I asked when or if they were going to expand to my area, they had no information. Considering the closest expansion to my area (40 miles away) happened 2 years ago, it's doubtful they're going to expand to my area anytime soon, if at all.

22. tedkord

Posts: 17043; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They've all got gaps. There are several areas in my neck of the woods (about 20 miles outside a major US city) that Verizon drops to their pathetic 3g network, or loses all signal. Yet, their map shows the entire region saturated with LTE. In some of those areas, my son gets better signal on his T-Mobile phone.

50. smacsteve

Posts: 86; Member since: May 16, 2012

Real area customers are very few and cover vast spaces. Verizon's net acquisitions are the reason they have the coverage and only AT&T can match their coverage pound for pound and T-Mobile is going to catch them now that they're going into SD, NE, IA as we discus. I've been with T-Mobile for more that 3 years. I left AT&T because of it's s**tty speeds and dropped calls. Never regretted it. I have a VZW line from a dealer position that I keep and it preforms well, but I find the TMO outperforming it most of the time I conduct speed tests.

2. longboardluv

Posts: 21; Member since: May 21, 2012

Verizon has gone down hill! For over a year now I've gotten about 2gb speeds in a major city. They have explained that their tower is overloaded. They even refunded me one month because I complained enough. Verizon has lost their ability to keep up in this city, it's pathetic!

3. g2a5b0e unregistered

2gb speeds? That's amazing! 6G is already here!

10. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

6G is "experimental." it's not widespread.

33. andynaija

Posts: 1242; Member since: Sep 08, 2012

Just hush please

18. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I think you mean 5G, which is supposed to only start deployment in either 2019 or 2020.

21. g2a5b0e unregistered

It was only meant as a joke, but you're right. 2gbps would be roughly 5G.

19. cnpthe3rd

Posts: 103; Member since: Feb 01, 2009

2Gb speed? 2Gbps speed sounds like 2075 11.5G must be a time traveler. around Orlando Fl area on T-Mobile S7 Edge, I got Download speeds of 99.81Mbps, 91.27Mbps, 87.79Mbps, 81.98Mbps on a Verizon S7 edge in the same spots speeds were 11.18Mbps, 28.98Mbps, 34.07Mbps, 27.76Mbps. tests were in the exact same place phones sitting on the table next to each other at the same time from mid morning to late evening at random spots across Orlando area.

26. g2a5b0e unregistered

Nothing like that all. People easily confuse Megabits (Mb) with Megabytes (MB). 1 MB = 8 Mb. The speeds you mentioned you're getting on your phone are actually in MBs. So 2Gbps is the equivalent of about 250MBps which is about what we expect 5G to be around.

32. cnpthe3rd

Posts: 103; Member since: Feb 01, 2009

Speedtest.net lists my speed results in Mbps (little b) and PC Mag says... "The leaps and bounds we've seen over the past few years show no sign of stopping. Looking at the maximum download speeds, it looks like there's a 2x jump every two years or so—from 50-60Mbps in 2014, to 120Mbps in 2016, and now to 200Mbps. LTE has more to give. A well-designed gigabit LTE network, like Telstra's in Australia, can deliver 400-450Mbps on a regular basis. In 2018 and 2019, we're hoping to see those speeds from carriers here in the US. By 2020 and 2021, we're going to have 5G phones. Demos I've seen at Qualcomm have shown the potential for speeds of 4 gigabits and up to each device. That will potentially enable real-time group VR and other science fiction-like experiences. We'll keep testing, just to make sure." ALL in Gbps (little b) from PC Mag.https://www.pcmag.com/Fastest-Mobile-Networks

35. g2a5b0e unregistered

I use Speedtest.net. too. It's measured in MB even though it says Mb.

38. fastfreddy123

Posts: 66; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

He obviously misspoke. This writer of this story sounds like a fanboy of Verizon. Each person should check and decide by testing out there own area and then choose . You can buy cheap sim cards that have a free month of service for ATT or TMOBILE for less then 10 bucks on Ebay, You can pick up cheap phones for Sprint or Verizon for 25.00 that include service. As far as calling in Rural area I lived in Letha, Idaho the only way anyone got calls out there at the time was WI-FI calling Tmobile supported nobody else did. I live in Pocatello now I live next to a Tmobile tower so we use Tmobile. If you live across town though Tmobile sucks and you go with ATT or Verizon I can tell you these so called coverage maps are all bulls**t. You wont actually know until you go there or have a friend living there. Before i moved to Pocatello i bought 1 Boost phone [Sprint] 1 Cricket [ATT] and a Tmobile sim Tried them all in the same area. I wasnt going to get straddled with crappy phone service for two years. I paid 75 to 100 for all 3 .If your going to pay 600 plus for a phone that cost is minimal and allows you to get the most from your phone.

6. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 709; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

Did you even see the map? Of course your provider is telling you that their towers are overloaded cause of too much connectivity. You don't even need to complaint in the first place since you get 2GB speeds. It's better to have connectivity than having none.

8. michaelny2001

Posts: 310; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

he meant 2 mbps, which is slow for most things, but ok for everything.

13. longboardluv

Posts: 21; Member since: May 21, 2012

it's .25mbps!

23. tedkord

Posts: 17043; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

He might have meant 2G speeds.

39. fastfreddy123

Posts: 66; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

the dude meant 2 mb not 2gb.if you have that slow of speed and your paying 70 a month.time to bail and switch as soon as u get the phone paid off. If u were not clueless you would KNOW nobody in the states gets 2 GB service at least not in cellphone service

30. trublackrose

Posts: 45; Member since: Apr 14, 2015

Damn. 2 gigabit speeds must be fantastic. While we are over here living in 2017 with 10-20mb speeds, you are over there living in 2037 with 2gb speeds.

4. DaBigDogg

Posts: 23; Member since: Sep 17, 2013

I don't think this really sums up the totality of the circumstances. I know in the last year my VZW has steadily declined to the point where it's nigh unusable. While I can recommend VZW for voice service (thanks to 3G fallback) anything LTE in the Long Island region of NY is questionable at best.

5. talon95

Posts: 976; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

The gaping hole is that all this is still not even including the 30 Mhz of 600 spectrum that T-mobile purchased from coast to coast. Between the actual bandwidth that it represents and the fact that it's low frequency (long distance and building penetrating) means that T-mobile is going to be killing everyone else over the next two years. That you can bet money on.

7. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 988; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

As much faith as I have in T-Mo you speak as if VZW and ATT haven't bothered investing in lower frequency tech. If T-Mo and Sprint Merge they will be a threat but only enough to unseat ATT at 2nd, Verizon will reign supreme for years to come.

9. azuleyez

Posts: 20; Member since: Dec 07, 2012

You can talk all you want about coverage area, but Verizon's congested 'bottleneck' of a network is simply getting worse and worse every day. I'm in a large metropolitan area, and during business hours I average less than 0.5 Mpbs, rendering data virtually unusable. I switched to T-Mobile, and consistently get 70+ Mpbs in the same areas, during the same times, consistently, every day, with better in-building coverage. #NeverVerizonAgain

11. technitude

Posts: 263; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

My son has Verizon, he drops way more calls than I do with Sprint, almost once every 10 minutes, especially lately. In fact, almost all my dropped calls are with Verizon (and some with AT&T) customers. Never with other Sprint customers and never with TMobile, never. I sometimes wonder if they intentionally do that during Sprint-Verizon calls to artificially make the other system look weak. I wouldn't put anything past Verizon, they are just too dishonest.

16. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Where I am, there aren't any Sprint towers for around 200 miles, Sprint customers roam off of Verizon towers here, but they're behind Verizon customers in order of who gets access to towers. I'll take dropped calls over no service any day.

12. LiveFaith

Posts: 335; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

If I lived and remained predominantly in a major city, then I would probably use T-Mobile or Sprint. But, my business takes me to the highways and biways of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. There is no way to do consistent business on TMob or Sprint. Only the two high cost and high coverage carriers are legit options.

40. Bernoulli

Posts: 4358; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

When's the last time you tried them? I went around Louisiana and Alabama on i10 last November and t mobile was amazing, granted two years prior I'd still be on edge, but now I got consistent LTE even in swampland

43. Ferrochrome99

Posts: 5; Member since: Jul 26, 2017

Did you leave I10 and go 20-50 miles South towards the Gulf and Bayou's or North the same. I went to LSU and worked in Louisiana up to 2013. If you went out of the cities or off the Interstate I would lose coverage or go on roam. It all depended. Sprint surprised me a few times having service in the middle of nowhere. However when I went back last Spring to LA, I noticed a marked difference with my AT&T compared to when I had Sprint. As I said in my posts at the end. Sprint is fine within 10-15 miles of almost all major Insterstates. Minus North and South Dakota. They have major issues there. As for data my brother who is still in my mom's Verizon family plan has been complaining of download speeds lately. Even texting him lately has been an issue. Serious lag during busy hours. Even late at night. Our messages don't add up or stay inline. I know it's not my phone. As other contacts near me who don't have Verizon don't have issues. He lives in Alameda, CA. I'm currently in CT. Awaiting back surgery. Stuck up here before I can go back down South. Anywhere down South. As long as it's Charlotte South, as far down as Tampa, and West to East Texas but nothing North of Dallas. I prefer being near water. I'm a delta boy. Oh, nothing North of Tennessee either. No offense anyone. I could definitely live in Knoxville but that's about it. Nothing like Gulf Coast and its epic sunsets. Unrivaled in my mind.

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