T-Mobile has the fastest LTE pipeline in the U.S. says crowd-sourced Open Signal

T-Mobile has the fastest LTE pipeline in the U.S. says crowd-sourced Open Signal
Back in January, the popular Ookla Speedtest app revealed that T-Mobile had the fastest LTE network in the U.S., with an average speed of 17.8Mbps. T-Mobile and its CEO John Legere used the Speedtest results to brag on advertisements and commercials. Now, Legere and company have more ammunition after crowd-sourced app OpenSignal also had T-Mobile's LTE network on top of the data speed standings.

Based on data that is crowd-sourced from iOS and Android users of its app, T-Mobile had an average download speed of 11.5Mbps. That topped the average download speed of 9.1Mbps scored by AT&T's LTE pipeline. Verizon and Sprint scored average LTE download speeds of 7.8Mbps and 4.3Mbps respectively. We should point out that these results contradict results of a test conducted by RootMetrics which had AT&T having the fastest service, followed by Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.

All four carriers are working on the next generation of LTE. Verizon is working on its upgrade while AT&T is stitching together larger, fatter pipelines using carrier aggregation. Sprint has its tri-band LTE service called Sprint Spark, and T-Mobile has doubled its downlink capacity in Las Vegas and in Dallas, and that technology will be in many major cities by the end of the year.

Despite having the fastest LTE speed, T-Mobile customers are sporting an LTE connection 61.1% of the time they are using their phone or tablet. That compares to Verizon, whose customers are using an LTE signal 83.2% of the time. That data shows how large Big Red's LTE network is. AT&T is next (70.6%) and Sprint brings up the rear at 56.6%.

By this time next year, we could be looking at a jump in average LTE download speeds in the U.S. Some see T-Mobile keeping its crown while others believe that Sprint will eventually be King of Data Speed.


source: GigaOM

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31 Comments

1. Galen20K

Posts: 576; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

I regularly get 30-40Mbps T-Mobile LTE in my area, it's rare when it drops below that. Those averages in this article are just that, averages. Some people such as myself get much faster speeds most of the time and I'm almost always on Strong signal LTE everywhere I go.

10. maherk

Posts: 6878; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Same here. I always have 4 out of 4 signal bars, with a blazing fast LTE download speeds, although this wasn't the case 7 months ago when I switched to tmobile, they improved drastically.

29. davenycept

Posts: 200; Member since: Jul 03, 2012

And when my T-Mobile S4 got kit kat I now have an extra bar of signal always available (it went from 4 to 5 bars)

3. theo14461 unregistered

I was with T-Mobile years ago, and wasn't pleased with there lack of coverage. Then went to Verizon, what a rip-off, then Sprint, horrible, then At&T, not bad, now I'm back to T-Mobile, and am very pleased. They have definitely grown, and couldn't be happier. Thanks T-Mobile!

28. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Unfortunately around here T-Mobile is still like that. I had them years ago and the coverage was abysmal at best. Today I only know a couple of people with TMO but if they travel away from the insterstates or the metro area into the suburbs (which are heavily populated) you end up stuck with 2G Edge speeds and no LTE or even HSPA. I would rather get 6mbps on Verizon and Sprint than get 9mbps on TMO LTE and barely have coverage to use data or even make a phone call on 2G.

4. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

I'm not particularly happy to have to keep reading that carriers are working on their next generation LTE technology without even getting the current generation into all major cities so everyone can have good coverage. While you should always work on the next thing and plan for it, these carriers need to stop selling themselves and their customers short in a very unnecessary speed race. How about a good old fashioned coverage race?

5. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

indeed. Sprint is the most guilty of this. They have launched spark in some areas recently, yet there are still areas that never saw ANY form of 4G, no LTE or Wimax even, and are still on 3G.

17. DAMONORIBELLO

Posts: 109; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

Uhh, both AT&T and Verizon launched 4G/LTE before some of their areas even saw 3G so this is pretty normal practice.

21. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Being normal practice doesn't always make it the best practice.

6. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

C'mon Sprint. Need you to get it together. We need you and TMo to put more pressure on ATT & VZW with coverage & data with faster speeds and competitive pricing to show how greedy those two really are!

8. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Sprint is pretty greedy to. Instead of spending their very little money on the network they are using it to pay for mergers

14. TheRequiem

Posts: 245; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

the $32 billion Sprint is spending on it's network over the next two years isn't "little", it's Softbank spending the money on the merger's. Las Vegas is having Sprint 2.5ghz TD-LTE deployed right now and it's already on about 50 towers with more everyday. Even though it's not officially launched... I hit 157mbps the other day. This blows the other carriers away. Granted, no one is using it yet and I specifically test and calibrate Alcatel equipment, but they will have 150mhz of Spectrum here over the next few years andw ill also be rolling out hundreds of LTE small cells along the strip. No one will be able to compete. For certain.

27. DnB925Art

Posts: 1168; Member since: May 23, 2013

Just curious, will this work at the Las Vegas Speedway in June of this year? I will be at the Electric Daisy Carnival and if I have the right phone, will I be able to get service there with 100,000+ people in attendance AND get Spark speeds?

9. JEverettnow

Posts: 228; Member since: Mar 11, 2013

I would say they are getting it together. 56% of the time open signal users are on LTE. Also, here in Elk Grove, Ca they have upgraded every tower to the new voice equipment and put up some LTE towers and are about to turn on spark. My voice calls are great now with no drops and my LTE speeds are around 20-25mbps down. When I was in LA my speeds were consistent around 20mbps down and worked everywhere around the beach towns. Even in san luis obispo my 3g was pulling 4mbps down. I think this year is going to be a big turn around for sprint. Especially because I have seen Spark pull over 50mbps down so anywhere there was wimax spark will be running. Also the new 3g voice equipment has been increasing the coverage area and creating better in building coverage.

16. TheRequiem

Posts: 245; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Actually, Sprint is deploying Spark on all of their Sprint towers, some old WiMAX sites have dual mode Huawei equipment still attached, but the new model since the merger is that they are doing almost every cell site, especially in cities. They will use some WiMAX sites to supplant coverage as well as a lot of small cells. However, some WiMAX sites will be re-purposed or sold and they will be rolling out new towers this year to expand coverage. They will need to have WiMAX shut down by end of 2015 if they want to use all the frequency and channels... no ifs ands or buts.

7. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

Get much faster on AT&T then tmobile in my area and much better coverage.

11. 1ceTr0n

Posts: 549; Member since: May 20, 2012

Too bad T-Mobile is screwing us customers over now by getting rid of corporate/business discounts to pay for all this

13. mike2959

Posts: 694; Member since: Oct 08, 2011

I can't speak for the rest of the country, but Ohio..more specifically Northeast Ohio, Cleveland and surrounding counties home of more than a million, TMO is horrible. Beyond horrible, unless you live in the...um...ok the hood. They have always been known for this. I'm speaking on HSPA+, and LTE... Look at their own map. Footprint is crap.

24. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

That's the problem with T-Mobile, their speeds are decent but their coverage footprint is way smaller that AT&T and Sprint, not to mention Verizon.

15. DAMONORIBELLO

Posts: 109; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

Way to go T-Mobile. Now try cramming all of Verizon's or AT&T's customers onto your network and see if you still get those speeds.

19. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

they only have that much speed because they don't have the amount of people on their network like AT&T and Verizon. I'd give it a few years of increased growth and we'll see if Tmobile still has the fastest LTE

30. DAMONORIBELLO

Posts: 109; Member since: Mar 18, 2012

I just said that...

32. UMAFan

Posts: 14; Member since: May 14, 2012

They will because their spectrum allows for more capacity because its of a higher band than the primary ones Verizon and at&t rely on. Also keep in mind Tmobile allows unlimited LTE usage on many plans and they still churn out faster speeds. The data hogs on the network are not bringing the speeds down.

31. UMAFan

Posts: 14; Member since: May 14, 2012

Its the SPECTRUM Tmobile uses to get those speeds. Verizon uses low band spectrum. Great for building penetration but horrible for capacity. This is why Verizon is on the hunt for the same aws spectrum Tmobile uses.

22. hockc17

Posts: 13; Member since: Apr 01, 2014

I live in Saint Louis and I have a LTE signal I would say 85% of the time wherever I go, I do get the "4G" signal every now and then. I've noticed that the footprint has increased since I got to T-Mobile in October. I now get LTE at home where I didn't before. I use the FCC speedtest and it has been a steady 34-38 mbps and hasn't been lower than that. But I agree that once more people get on T-Mobile that speeds will decrease. I personally am very happy with T-Mobile since I left Sprint.

34. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

I live in St. Louis as well and I've seen more people have T-mobile recently. My only concern about Tmobile is coverage because they're not as widespread as AT&T and Verizon. I have AT&T and I'm happy with their service because I can go virtually anywhere and have the same coverage. I like what T-Mobile is doing, but I can't switch yet

35. hockc17

Posts: 13; Member since: Apr 01, 2014

I agree with you and the coverage AT&T has, I switched because Sprint kept dropping my calls, texts were sent but never received, speeds were slow etc. I didn't even get a decent signal in my house. I didn't even think of T-Mobile when I was going to switch I was going to stay with Sprint but T-Mobiles prices and unlimited data were what caught my eye. At&T and Verizon were way too expensive for me since I am in college and my income is limited. I don't travel often out of STL but when I do, I do notice T-Mobile has measly coverage out of the city and surrounding areas. Right now I have never been more impressed by a carrier before. They will make decisions that will make people angry (employee discounts) but I don't get that anyway so it doesn't bother me as much...but if they would only announce they are going to carry the Z2!!

36. Jeradiah3

Posts: 1149; Member since: Feb 11, 2010

I agree with that.

23. baldilocks

Posts: 1505; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Pretty easy to be the fastest when there is no one on your network. :)

33. UMAFan

Posts: 14; Member since: May 14, 2012

No. Tmobile has both higher band spectrum to allow for more capacity than Verizon or At&t and they also have the best LTE equipment on towers just by virtue of getting it later.

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