Carrier 3G/4G LTE network latency research compares Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile

Carrier 3G/4G LTE network latency research compares Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile
We often talk about about how fast 4G LTE connection speeds are, and how in some cases they are even faster than our home Internet, but there is one other key aspect of a network speed that we discuss rarely. We’re talking about network latency: the time it takes a network to transfer a packet from the source to the receiver. Simply put, the lower the latency, the better your Internet experience. While this matters in all sorts of scenarios (you’d notice how fast a page loads in your browser), it’s actually crucial in situations like video conferencing and gaming.

4G LTE itself is a technology that comes with the benefit of much lower latencies over traditional 3G connections, but there are differences between different carriers’ 4G networks. FierceWireless and OpenSignal have partnered to show exactly what those differences are, and to ultimately give us real-world speed data to know which carrier has the fastest network. Keep in mind that the data you’ll see below covers not just 4G LTE, but also eHRPD (a technology allowing Verizon and Sprint to pass data from their current CDMA towers to an LTE network), HSPAP and HSPA.

Looking at the numbers gathered by Fierce Wireless, it becomes clear that the big winner among the top four US carriers is T-Mobile. The fourth-largest US operator scores the lowest (meaning, fastest) latencies on its 4G network. AT&T is a close runner-up, while Verizon and Sprint trail behind. Sprint is obviously the biggest loser, scoring the highest latencies on 4G LTE. The reason for this is likely the limited amount of spectrum it uses right now with its 5x5MHz network configuration, while other carriers use 10x10, or even 20x20MHz allotments. The Now Network has promised improvements soon, though.

Finally, we ought to say that the data is based on stats from over 1 million consumer devices, each of which runs three pings to Google.com, and the average result is taken as a base. How important is network latency to you? Let us know in the comments below, and check out Fierce Wireless' post for all the data visualization.

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18 Comments

1. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Woot Sprint is winning haha. But where I live, it only gets 3G or lower. So I'm staying with AT&T

2. youlookfoolish

Posts: 193; Member since: Dec 14, 2012

Sprint is not winning, it is in last. Latency is a terrible thing.

5. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

I know it was joking haha :P I do want to see Sprint to really get that 180-200mps speed they were shooting for in the future. This way, it will push AT&T and Verizon to make their speed even faster.

9. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Not surprised to see last place are you? Do you see T-Mobile last? Nope.

7. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Lower numbers are better when it comes to latency big guy. This was done Open Signal/Fierce Wireless and does not include Sprint Spark in the testing.

3. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Its just sad how much sprint sucks.

4. youlookfoolish

Posts: 193; Member since: Dec 14, 2012

This article is click bait. At least it points out Sprint is using a smaller pipeline.

11. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Just accept it and move on with your life. No need to get hurt.

6. mikedano

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 18, 2014

I there. I'm Mike Dano, the executive editor of FierceWireless. While I appreciate your interest in our network latency report, I would respectfully ask that you remove our charts from your site. You're welcome to direct readers to our site for those charts. Thanks!

10. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Lol dunno if joke account or the real deal. The charts do not match e colors of the carriers btw.

8. androidornothing

Posts: 143; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

Lol jacked article

12. tokuzumi

Posts: 1927; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Sprint should change their motto from "The Now Network" to "We're working on it"

13. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

LMFAO! I'm using this in the future.

16. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Not to be a di*k PapaSmurf You commented above that "youlookfoolish" should just move on with his life yet all I see is you do is bash Sprint every chance you get and spew TMO propaganda all over the place. We get it, you don't like Sprint and love TMO...you're the one that needs to move on with your life.

14. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

Sprint reminds me of that song from Scott Pilgrim vs the World... "Soooooooooooo Saaaaaaad"! Lol

15. zennacko unregistered

And that was another point to John Legere and the T-Mo gang. Now he can troll the other carriers with those tests!

17. genkidama20

Posts: 52; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

So happy I left Verizon for T-Mo ... Verizon was robbing me for petty overage charges on top of their overpriced plans. I have not missed VZW one bit. I'm saving over $50 a month on our family plan. AND according to these charts, I'm getting just as good of data speeds!

18. ryan5609

Posts: 107; Member since: Nov 01, 2011

Finally T-Mobile wins at something! I am on the best carrier in the WORLD!!!

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