Verizon vs T-Mobile vs AT&T: new 5G speed and availability leader shapes up in H2 2021

Verizon vs T-Mobile vs AT&T: new 5G speed and availability leader shapes up in H2 2021
Although 2021 is obviously far from over, RootMetrics is ready to share the preliminary results of its H2 research into the big three US carriers' 5G networks.

The always reliable and trustworthy mobile analytics firm has already been able to complete its comprehensive testing of 60 out of 125 metropolitan markets for the July 13 - September 23 period, and believe it or not, there are some staggering differences to note compared to the same company's full H1 2021 report.

Specifically, there's a new overall industry leader in town the country, and even though we obviously can't be certain this will retain its crown when the final year-ending results come in, its progress is clear, undeniable, and unbeatable.

T-Mobile gets two big ones in the win column


We admit, we were definitely surprised to see AT&T take home the "best 5G experience" title for H1 2021 back in August. Naturally, it's far too early to hand out the same prize for the year's second half, but T-Mobile is the (totally unsurprising) odds-on favorite for the combined number one spot now.


The "Un-carrier" has the early lead in both 5G availability and 5G speed, with the former contest actually looking a bit closer than some of you might have expected while the latter is an absolute tour de force for the nation's second-largest wireless service provider (by number of subscribers) for the time being.

Incredibly enough, T-Mo has managed to boost its average 5G speeds in all 60 (!!!) cities assessed by RootMetrics so far compared to the firm's August 2021-published report, setting a new 273.3 Mbps record in Kansas City, Missouri and jumping from 54.8 Mbps all the way up to 171.7 Mbps in Raleigh, North Carolina among other great achievements.

While RootMetrics can only award 17 individual 5G download speed trophies at the moment (16 of which go to T-Mobile), with the rest of the metropolitan battles being too close to call, Magenta has no less than 42 5G availability gold medals to its name, compared to AT&T's 25 and Verizon's paltry four.


Clearly, however, T-Mo is primarily focusing on speed improvements in large cities, giving the competition a chance to try to close an absolutely massive gap in 5G coverage. Unfortunately for Verizon and AT&T subscribers, the two "traditional" carriers will never be able to truly catch up until they manage to deploy their recently acquired C-band spectrum... in a big way.

AT&T and Verizon are fighting for scraps


While top-notch reliability is arguably a solid indicator of a decent user experience as well, it's hard for AT&T and Verizon to realistically hope to claim the overall 5G crown at the end of the year when they're currently splitting the only title T-Mobile is not in contention for.

Data reliability, in case you're wondering, refers to a user's odds of routinely finding and maintaining a 5G signal, which are essentially just as good on Big Red and Ma Bell but for some reason far worse on Magenta.


Verizon actually crushed AT&T in that category during H1, so this (provisional) statistical tie is certainly not good news for the largest mobile network operator stateside. On the bright side, Big Red can definitely be proud of improving both its 5G speeds and service availability so far in H2, while Ma Bell's customers will probably be disappointed to see their carrier's 5G speed averages register a (minor) decline in a lot of cities.

AT&T's greatest progress comes from Tulsa, Oklahoma as far as both 5G availability and speeds are concerned, with Verizon's 5G network shining bright in markets like Rockford, Illinois, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Indio, California.

All in all, we're now extremely interested to check out this firm's final analysis of the US 5G landscape in a few months, as T-Mobile could very well earn everyone's vote to once and for all settle the debate over who leads the industry... at the moment.

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