Verizon's 4G speeds often faster than T-Mobile's 5G network, and signal is stronger

RootMetrics, a mobile network performance subsidiary of IHS, one of the largest research firms globally, already gave us a sneak peek of its verdict on AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint's speed and reliability report for the first half of the year, but it apparently saved the best for last

Just like it scored the OpenSignal 5G network award globally today, Verizon is taking home the national prize here in America as well. The cell network testing arm of IHS measures network reliability, network speed, data performance, call performance and text performance in more than a hundred key markets around the US. 

Due to the coronavirus lockdown, however, these are preliminary results in 55 markets tested so far, instead of the full bi-annual report, and they are still pretty telling. While AT&T was the fastest-improving network, and T-Mobile notched a great performance, too, it's Verizon that takes the cake in more RootMetrics than one. 

Verizon's 4G LTE downloads are often faster than AT&T or T-Mobile's 5G speeds

The main takeaway from all the measurements seems to be that even though T-Mobile boasts with its triple-layer 5G spectrum cake, its full deployment is yet to materialize. While its combined 5G coverage in Philadelphia now deploys Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum to cover an area that is larger than all of Verizon's mmWave 5G nationwide coverage, it's still slower than Verizon's good ol' LTE coverage.

In addition to the fastest median download speeds overall, and by a large margin, Verizon also notched the coveted signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) award, and has apparently been doing this since 2018. That higher SNR means that Big Red's customers receive clearer signal with less interference than other carriers.

Here are the key RootMetrics findings in the Verizon vs AT&T vs T-Mobile 5G and LTE network speeds and availability:

  • Verizon delivers improved speeds in 40 of 55 cities: While Verizon’s already fast speeds got faster in most cities, the carrier’s improvements were, for the most part, relatively minor. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that Verizon’s speeds have historically been quite fast relative to those of the competition, leaving less room for improvement compared to the other carriers.

  • Verizon’s 5G maximum download speeds highlight the exciting potential of mmWave spectrum 5G: RootMetrics recorded 5G results for Verizon in eight of the of the 55 markets tested in 1H 2020, and Verizon’s 5G maximum download speeds were remarkable in Boise, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Verizon’s max speeds on 5G ranged from 472.3 Mbps in Boise to 676.4 Mbps in LA. While consumers won’t experience those maximum speeds on a daily basis, they do offer an important look at the potential of the carrier’s mmWave 5G.

  • Verizon’s 5G expansion efforts should lead to greater availability going forward: While Verizon’s mmWave 5G has shown remarkable speeds, the carrier’s 5G availability is generally limited because mmWave signals can’t travel as far as low- or mid-band spectrum 5G signals used by other carriers. Verizon also targets its 5G to specific areas where the added capacity of mmWave 5G can help provide an enhanced experience, but the carrier has stated plans to expand its mmWave 5G to an additional 31 cities in 2020, which could soon bring those fast 5G speeds to more people in more places.

  • Verizon delivers “Excellent” data and call reliability in all 55 cities and earns far more Network Reliability RootScore Awards than any other carrier. Not only is Verizon’s network fast, it’s also very reliable. Verizon earned an incredible 54 Network Reliability RootScore Awards out of 55 total opportunities, and the carrier registered “Excellent” data and call reliability in each of the 55 cities tested in 1H 2020 to date. While AT&T also achieved the feat of excellent reliability across the board, Sprint and T-Mobile fell short for blocked call reliability, with each network registering Excellent blocked call reliability in just 31 of 55 markets. RootMetrics considers data reliability success rates of 97% or higher for getting connected and/or staying connected to the network as “Excellent,” while blocked and dropped call failure rates below 2% are also considered Excellent.

  • Verizon earns far more RootScore Awards than any other carrier: Verizon’s fast and reliable performances across US metros translated into by far the highest award tally of among all four carriers with 329 (out of 385 total award chances) in 1H 2020 to date. Even more impressive is that Verizon earned the award for overall performance (which factors in results from data, call and text testing) in 52 out of 55 cities. The next best competitor in the category was AT&T, with 22 such awards.

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