ireless carriers in the US have experienced a few shakeups in recent years, and they’re starting to have an effect on the industry. AT&T and Verizon spent years at the top, but T-Mobile’s rapid growth pushed them to reintroduce unlimited plans, which have changed the way people use their mobile devices. A new State of the Mobile Networks report published by OpenSignal shows that while T-Mobile ranks at the top in terms of network speeds, both Verizon and AT&T are starting to close the gap.
For the report, which covered the fourth quarter of 2017 (October 1 to December 30), OpenSignal collected data from more than 200,000 mobile devices across 33 major cities. While some wireless carriers in the United States were resting on their laurels, T-Mobile invested heavily in its LTE Advanced network, and it shows. The carrier topped OpenSignal’s charts in four of five categories: 3G, 4G, overall speed, 4G availability, and 3G latency. (It’s the second time T-Mobile’s come out on top in OpenSignal’s 4G speed test.) The only award it didn’t win was 4G latency — AT&T took the crown with an average LTE network ping time of 58.3 milliseconds.
Sprint has been struggling, lately, but its recent network investments have paid off. The carrier managed to increase average 4G speeds across its network by 33 percent (to 12 Mbps), according to OpenSignal, and improve measurably (9 percentage points) in 4G availability tests — testers were able to find a Sprint signal 85.7 percent of the time.
When AT&T and Verizon launched their respective unlimited plans, both networks showed a decrease in 4G speeds. Thankfully, though, the carriers have been working to improve speeds. Verizon’s network speeds have returned to “pre-unlimited speed levels”, according to OpenSignal, rising to an average of 17.8 Mbps. AT&T’s 4G LTE speeds also rebounded, hitting 13.3Mbps for the quarter.