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