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Mid-band 5G speeds help T-Mobile win an important award for the first time ever

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Mid-band 5G speeds help T-Mobile win an important award for the first time ever
Supported by a treasure trove of mid-band 5G spectrum acquired from Sprint and a breakneck pace of deployment and expansion of said spectrum on top of its low-band network foundation, T-Mobile continues to set records, accomplish previously unimaginable feats, and especially sweep awards on its apparent path to wireless industry supremacy.

While the "Un-carrier" became an analytics firms' darling shortly after launching its "nationwide" 5G signal at the end of 2019, winning numerous top prizes handed out by the likes of Opensignal, RootMetrics, and Ookla ever since, today is the day the operator can finally add an elusive crown to its trophy room for the first time.

The fastest mobile network period


PCMag may not have the market research credentials or network performance testing resources of the aforementioned companies, but the publication does have a long history of surveying the US carrier landscape in a consistent, transparent, and unbiased manner.

Since 2010, Verizon has impressively managed to top PCMag's annual mobile network speed ranks no less than eight times, most recently in 2020, while AT&T settled for just three trophies, nonetheless eclipsing T-Mobile's tally of, you guessed it, zero gold medals.


Zero until today, that is, as T-Mo's overall speed score of 96 (presumably out of 100 points) is finally enough to beat AT&T and Verizon's 89 and 86 results respectively. That's based on download, upload, latency, and reliability tests conducted using the same devices in the same places and at the same times across more than 10,000 miles in 30 major US metro areas and six rural regions.

In other words, although the conclusions of this research may not be representative for the entire nation, plenty of people looking for a new phone and/or new carrier nowadays should find T-Mobile's services objectively superior to the competition.

We're talking folks residing in a grand total of 24 cities and rural regions, compared to just eight and two markets surveyed by PCMag where one can realistically expect AT&T and Verizon respectively to reign supreme.

Another two markets were tied between two of the nation's big three wireless service providers, giving Magenta a very comfortable lead over AT&T and Verizon when it comes to the fastest mobile network available today. While mid-band 5G speeds were unsurprisingly what put T-Mo ahead of its rivals at the end of the day, this is an overall network award rather than a specific 5G network crown, making the victory that much more remarkable.

AT&T is the 4G LTE champion... for what it's worth


In addition to "modern" 5G networks, 4G LTE signals were tested for the purposes of this report, revealing some surprising things and painful truths... if you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years.

Due to not leveraging mid-band technology at all for the time being and failing to make an impact with its "tiny patches" of mmWave coverage, AT&T's 5G speed results are embarrassingly lower than its own 4G scores.


On the bright side, AT&T dominates nationwide "as surely" as T-Mobile does overall when looking at 4G LTE-only speed tests, with Verizon's 5G network falling behind Ma Bell's "outdated" cell phone signal as well.

Big Red, mind you, managed to slip from first to third place overall in PCMag's ranking from 2020 due to its own inability to rival Magenta's mid-band 5G rollout, and ironically, last fall's "nationwide" DSS 5G deployment.

With Dynamic Spectrum Sharing technology, Verizon vastly improved the penetration of its 5G signal, but said signal was found to be slower and spottier than good old fashioned 4G LTE. While the carrier is said to have worked out some of the "kinks" associated with its initial low-band 5G rollout, the speed gap to the new leader is unlikely to be closed anytime soon... if ever.

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