AT&T is named the nation's fastest carrier again, followed by... Sprint

AT&T is named the nation's fastest carrier again, followed by... Sprint
AT&T caused a lot of controversy with its 5G E, aka 5G Evolution, aka LTE Advanced shenanigans late last year and early in 2019, but misleading branding aside, it looks like the carrier actually made some very significant mobile network upgrades in the lead-up to a true, nationwide 5G rollout.

America's second-largest wireless service provider by subscribers is ranked first in the latest quarterly analysis of download speeds conducted by none other than Ookla, the company behind arguably the most popular such testing tool in the world. In fact, the findings of this Q3 2019 report are based on consumer-initiated uses of the Speedtest app and web service, and although the exact sample size of the survey is kept under wraps, we're fairly certain Ookla gathered an enormous amount of data between July and September.

After all, this is the same firm that collected measurements from more than 4 million unique mobile devices in the January - June timeframe to conclude AT&T was fastest among the nation's big four carriers in the first half of the year as well. What's interesting is that "Ma Bell" managed to extend its lead over the silver and bronze medalists in the Q3 rankings, boosting its average speed score from 32.91 to 35.17.

After staying just two points behind the champ between January and June, T-Mobile is now trailing AT&T by almost double that number, despite marginally improving its own speed score from 30.94 to 31.36. Believe it or not, Magenta is actually outranked by Sprint as well after a pretty impressive jump from 28.15 to 31.84 for T-Mo's potential future sister operator.

Shockingly, that leaves Verizon dead last in Ookla's "big four" chart for the July - September timeframe after a small but notable speed score drop from 29.45 to 29.42. It looks like we'll have to wait until the end of the year to see if Big Red manages to retain the "consistency" title won back in July. That's a particularly important aspect for things like HD video streaming, when you need your download speeds to stay consistent more than you need them to break records at their peak. 

For all other use cases, however, you may want to stay away from the nation's largest carrier and instead pick one of the three other heavyweights. Preferably, AT&T, at least according to Ookla... and Global Wireless Solutions. It's good to keep in mind that other recent reports reached vastly different conclusions, like this one from RootMetrics or this one put together by OpenSignal.

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3 Comments

2. Plutonium239

Posts: 1231; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Sprint probably got faster because so many people have left sprint and as a result, they have more bandwidth available for their customers to use.

3. DFranch

Posts: 555; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

That just sounds right!

4. liteon163

Posts: 60; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

I've noticed my Verizon bandwidth isn't very good anymore. My LG G7 gets around 10 Mbps, while my son's AT&T LG G7 gets more than triple (and sometimes even 10x) that while we're both sitting in my living room. Verizon seems to have an edge on network availability in the middle of nowhere but since I tend to frequent locations where both carriers are always available I've been thinking about switching back to AT&T.

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