Network Quality report shows T-Mobile on the rise, Verizon and AT&T falling

Network Quality report shows T-Mobile on the rise, Verizon and AT&T falling
We all want to know which wireless carrier has the best network, but determining that is a huge job that takes a lot of study and testing. RootMetrics has taken on that task, and has just released its report covering the first half of 2014. The overall rankings probably aren't much of a surprise - Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint ranked in that order - but it is a bit surprising how the scores have changed since the second half of 2013.

The way it works is that RootMetrics uses unmodified, off-the-shelf mobile devices in all 50 states, including indoor, outdoor, and driving in the "125 most populous metropolitan markets", and the "50 busiest U.S. airports". The 5.6 million tests performed cover network reliability, speed, data performance, voice performance, and text performance. The aim is to use consumer devices in places and manners that average users would, in order to get the best idea of each network. Scores are then given on a scale up to 100. 

In the new report, Verizon takes the top spot with a score of 81.6, AT&T is number two at 79.5, then T-Mobile at 71.5, and Sprint at 69.6. T-Mobile may be in third place, but it is the big winner, because at the end of 2013, it was ranked dead last with a score of 64.3. The only other carrier to improve its score was Sprint, which scored 68.2 for the second half of 2013. Verizon held on to the top spot, but was the big loser, down from a score of 89.7 at the end of 2013. AT&T also dropped from 86.2 down to 79.5. 

The data available from the tests is incredibly impressive. You can dig down into local neighborhoods, and see the driving routes taken, and the coverage test results. Or, you can take a look at the state-by-state winners in each category. Those don't yield too many surprises though, aside from Sprint having the best call performance in Vermont, and the best text performance in Wyoming.

source: RootMetrics 1, 2, & 3 via Re/code



14. diyi75

Posts: 73; Member since: Oct 30, 2013

T-Mobile will replace sprint @ third place. That's the best they will due without better coverage. With all the so called network upgrades, they're still areas with no coverage whatsoever. In the meantime, the price war will go on and att/vz will slowly match prices to keep them @ bay. In this year alone, my att service has improved a lot just because of the bickering. Thanks Big Magenta !

8. cheeseycheeser

Posts: 413; Member since: Mar 24, 2011

I can honsetly say it seems like Verizon has way more issues than it used to. Speed and reliability is not what is used to be.

11. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Speed has been my biggest issue with VZW. Even with the LTE Advanced (or whatever it is called) roll-out, speeds along the heavy use areas (ex: SF peninsula) are not what they once were. Unless the network capacity at peak use gets sorted out, I suspect VoLTE will be a massive fail.

15. JEverettnow

Posts: 228; Member since: Mar 11, 2013

Around here VZW is a consistent 1-2mbps down on LTE.

7. Derekjeter

Posts: 1581; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

When Tmo has as many customers as Att and Verizon will see the same thing happen to them. Here in Socal Tmo has horrible indoor reception can't get thru walls.

10. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

That's most likely due to the frequency band they're running on. The higher the frequency, the less building penetration you're going to have. That why Verizon and AT&T with 700 & 800MHz penetrate better than say when Sprint had WiMax running in the 2k MHz range and being mostly useless indoors.

6. SemiFinal

Posts: 117; Member since: Jul 26, 2014

Hopefully people who talk about how bad Sprint is will see how clueless they are. I'm so tired of seeing those biased comments all over sprint articles. They lag beind the others sure but they don't deserve all the abuse.

5. Galen20K

Posts: 588; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

I know they still have ways to go, but darn it T-Mobile has REALLY improved drastically in the past two years. Soon Magenta will easily take the Permanent Third spot in carriers here in the USA, as the "Framily" falls.

4. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

As an ATT customer, I am surprised at how close ATT's network has gotten to Verizon's. I'm sure there still are local differences, especially in more rural areas, but across the entire US, the networks are now quite similar. If T-Mobile can keep building out their network and make it into the top tier of network performance, the sky is the limit for them. Likewise, if Sprint can get their act together, they have a chance in the game. Getting a good CEO seems to be a major challenge for Sprint. Few of the already rich really like to work.

12. JDogg5281

Posts: 74; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

not to mention...if/when tmobile gets better it might help lower ATT and Verizon prices.

3. gnotch

Posts: 19; Member since: Dec 31, 2013

t-mobile is really winning they already have outstanding service (in my area ofc) and they're really about the customers, all they need to work on is coverage, and really they can become the best.

2. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

Tmobile just needs to finish their LTE upgrade and start expanding their network and they will easily start taking all of Verizon's/at&ts customers.

9. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I would love for them to expand their coverage, however I doubt thell ever make it into the rural areas. Most just don't see it as cost effective, and the only reason Verizon and AT&T have it is due to buyouts of other carriers. Hopefully I'm wrong though.

1. latinlegend

Posts: 35; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

The way i see it tmobile will be the new king within in the next 5 years. As long as tmobiles service keeps getting better and keeps their prices low that is.

13. troutsy

Posts: 384; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

That's not how business models work.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless