Which of the four major carriers has the fastest LTE service in the U.S.?

Which of the four major carriers has the fastest LTE service in the U.S.?
Wall Street Journal tech scribe Walt Mossberg decided to run his own tests to see which of the four major stateside carriers had the fastest 4G LTE service. Mossberg himself admits that this was far from a scientific study as it consisted of Mossberg testing data speed from one coast to the other with four different versions of the Apple iPhone 5s. Each of the four units was connected to one of the top four U.S.mobile operators: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. Mossberg ran the test in three locations. One was a Maryland suburb near Washington D.C. The second test location was in Manhattan while the third was in Silicon Valley.

The winner of Mossberg's informal testing was...drum roll please...AT&T. The mobile operator managed to produce an average download speed during the three tests of 19.7 Mbps. But it was the test in New York City that helped AT&T take the crown. In the Big Apple, the nation's second largest carrier blew away the other three with a 34.8 Mbps speed test. Outside of that one area, AT&T finished third in Maryland and dead last in Silicon Valley.

AT&T wins Walt Mossberg's unscientific LTE speed test

AT&T wins Walt Mossberg's unscientific LTE speed test

The most consistent performer was the one that finished second as Verizon averaged 16.7 Mbps. Big Red didn't finish first in any of the three locations, but managed to stay between 15 Mbps and 18.6 Mbps during the testing. T-Mobile finished third with an average score of 13.5 Mbps and even finished first in Maryland with a 19.5 Mbps tally. Mossberg found that his T-Mobile branded iPhone 5s took the longest of the four to find and lock onto an LTE signal.

Sprint finished last with an average speed of 10.4 Mbps. Had the operator not won in Silicon Valley with a reading of 20.7 Mbps, the average speed would have been much lower. Mossberg relates that in two cities, he had to travel away from the testing area to find a Sprint LTE signal. But this could soon change as Sprint has started slowly testing its tri-band LTE service called Sprint Spark. With the tri-band LTE service, the circuitry on the user's handset decides in the blink of an eye, which of the three LTE bands is perfect for a particular task.
 
Because LTE data speed can vary depending on the amount of traffic in the area at a certain time, we really can't take away too much from Mossberg's test, especially when  the winner relied on one high scoring city to bail it out. Ironically, AT&T's signal in New York was called "crap" earlier this year during CES in Las Vegas, by none other than T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
source: WSJ

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30 Comments

1. suavemezie

Posts: 91; Member since: Jun 21, 2012

ATT for sure

2. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

It all depends on where the testing is conducted. There are places where I can produce a result of 500 Kb/s down on VZW. I can also go somewhere else and get 50Mb/s down on VZW. Hopefully VZW improves the 500 Kb/s result.

16. tacarat

Posts: 851; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Yep. I'd rather there be a report that grades by location instead of making a "national best" headline report. Who cares if you're great in NY, SF and Miami? Most folks are happy with one or none of those, much less two or more.

3. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Well in Chicago, AT&T and T-Mobile take the crown as the fastest averaging over 30+ on LTE and 12/28 on HSPA+. Guess who's in dead last? Yep. ;)

5. LiyanaBG

Posts: 381; Member since: Nov 07, 2013

sprint?

23. W.P._Android_in_that_Order

Posts: 208; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

No! Its gotta be VZW since their network is overloaded and really bogged down.

28. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

You're kidding me, right? Starts with S and ends with print.

29. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Here we go again. Ladies and gentlemen, like a broken record. T-Mobile lover and Sprint basher himself. Do you realize that when you spew the same thing over and over again people just start to not pay attention. Sprint LTE works fine in Chicago.

9. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

Agreed, I'm near Chicago and it's fast on T-Mo.

19. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Which suburb?

21. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

I live in northwest Indiana but work in Olympia Fields. I get good speeds at home and at work I clocked 21 Megs HSPA+ on my N4 and close to 13 Megs on my G2 with LTE. Closer I get to the city and away from the suburbs, the faster the speed gets.

4. mas11

Posts: 1034; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

Ugh that chart needs better color coding

24. W.P._Android_in_that_Order

Posts: 208; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Thank you. I was hoping I wasn't the only one to notice that.

6. LiyanaBG

Posts: 381; Member since: Nov 07, 2013

i'm surprised i thought everyone said Verizon was the best LTE ?

10. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

Best coverage, not always the best speeds.

7. donphone

Posts: 64; Member since: Oct 20, 2013

Surprised sprint took silicon valley. Agreed on the color coding, the wall street journal should know better.

25. JEverettnow

Posts: 228; Member since: Mar 11, 2013

I get around 10-30mbps down in the Bay Area with sprint. Its the only place my phone works better than AT&T.

8. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

This is true, even the one about New York, I get way faster speed, then my friends on Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. The crazy part out of all them I got 4 bars of AT&T in my room, and 2 bars in my basement, while Verizon have 2 bars in my room and struggle on 1 bar in the basement with sometimes no signal, Sprint work in my room with 1 bar, but not in my basement its dead at zero coverage, T-mobile the worse I cannot get 1 bar on in my room, while having zero in my basement........

11. deathbydesigner

Posts: 10; Member since: Nov 28, 2012

I would rather have the carrier that seems to consistently work everywhere.

13. DimitriTech unregistered

Agreed.

12. DimitriTech unregistered

so the best lte in the bay area is sprint? that's a surprise...

18. Jommick

Posts: 221; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

It's easy to have good throughput with no traffic.

26. JEverettnow

Posts: 228; Member since: Mar 11, 2013

The Bay Area is one of Sprint's largest markets and the buildout is only 46% compelte in that market.

14. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

I'm in the okc area and get 20-40+ Mbps on tmobiles LTE.

15. Magenta

Posts: 17; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

Here in the Silicon Valley especially San Jose, I get peak 48Mbps download and 14Mbps upload even though SF is the main city that receives the blazing fast 4G LTE on T-Mobile on my N5.

17. fervid

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Must not have tested STL again, where I get 50-70 on ATT.

20. nothingmuch

Posts: 201; Member since: May 03, 2013

I hate signing in here, it always takes at least 3 trys. Wish my area had LTE :(

22. W.P._Android_in_that_Order

Posts: 208; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

Why isn't Sprint yellow? Verizon red? T-Mo pink? ATT blue?

27. MrRansom12

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 13, 2013

I will take a little less speed for far superior coverage, Verizon all the way, extensive side by side testing in about 8 states and they cream AT&T. I give kudos for AT&T for improving a lot, but they still gotta catch up and stop trying to claim more reliable and most "4G" and lying to your customers and work on the network more.

30. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Agreed, better coverage beats a little extra speed IMO.

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