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T-Mobile is the fastest carrier, Galaxy S22 Ultra the phone with the speediest downloads

T-Mobile has been the fastest and most consistent US carrier this past quarter, reports Ookla, the company behind the Speedtest carrier benchmarking app. They have been examining the app's reports and it turns out that T-Mobile has gotten an edge over the other big two, in both 4G and 5G download speeds.

Oookla also revealed which was the phone that managed the fastest download speeds, as well as which was the fastest iPhone when it comes to bits and bytes beamed down to their cell modem by a carrier.

America's fastest carrier

Big Magenta scored 117.83 Mbps median download speeds which is a fairly large increase over its result in Q4 when it was again the fastest. The second place is taken by Verizon this time around, with 62.62 Mbps, reflecting its C-Band switch, while AT&T scored 56.1 Mbps. Here are the Speedtest Intelligence report's main US carrier benchmark findings for Q1:

  • Verizon was the fastest fixed broadband provider in the United States during Q1 2022, edging out XFINITY with a median download speed of 184.36 Mbps to XFINITY’s 179.12 Mbps.

  • T-Mobile took the top spot as the fastest and most consistent mobile operator in the U.S. during Q1 2022, achieving a median download speed of 117.83 Mbps and a Consistency Score of 88.3% — both increases over Q4 2021.

  • Looking at tests taken only on 5G, T-Mobile achieved the fastest median 5G download speed at 191.12 Mbps during Q1 2022. Verizon also had a notable increase in 5G download speed during Q1 2022 over Q4 2021, which was helped by turning on new C-Band spectrum in January.

  • The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was the fastest popular device in the U.S. at 116.33 Mbps during Q1 2022.

Needless to say, the Speedtest Intelligence report is based on "millions of consumer-initiated tests taken every day with Speedtest," so it is somewhat skewed to downtowns and more heavily populated areas where T-Mobile has denser coverage, on average, than the rural spots that Verizon or AT&T are covering.

Still, T-Mobile showed a commendable increase in performance, almost doubling the 62.35 Mbps it scored in Q3 2021 and its faster and more complex 5G network rollout has a big role in the current state of affairs. The robustness of T-Mobile's network was demonstrated by the highest consistency percentage it managed to score in the study, too, maintiaing at least 5 Mbps download speeds in 88% of the cases, more than Verizon or AT&T.

The phone with fastest download speeds belongs to Samsung

Samsung has three of the top five phones with the fastest download speeds and the Galaxy S22 Ultra as well as the Galaxy Z Fold 3 occupy the top two places with a median download speeds of 116.33 Mbps and 100.83 Mbps, respectively.

The fastest download speeds scored by an Apple iPhone go to the flagship iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 Pro models, while Samsung's 2021 flagship the Galaxy S21 Ultra rounds up the top five in the category.

Those are pretty explicable numbers, given that the S22 Ultra has Qualcomm's newest X65 5G modem, as it can take full advantage from the carrier aggregation options offered to it. In fact, T-Mobile recently bragged about the optimizations that phones with this modem can enjoy on its network:

  • T-Mobile will be able to take advantage of the Qualcomm X65's three-carrier 5G aggregation in several different ways. The carrier has more than 100MHz of mid-band 5G spectrum in a lot of places, and in those places, it needs 3xCA to do two 100MHz mid-band channels plus a low-band channel for uplink/better range. There are also some cities (like New York) where its mid-band allocation is split in half and can be used like two separate bands. So X65 phones (such as the Galaxy S22) should bring considerable performance improvements on T-Mobile's mid-band.

  • 3.45-to-3.55GHz spectrum, which is in the middle of being auctioned, should clear in some places by the end of 2022. This means that AT&T, and whoever else buys that spectrum, will potentially see a considerable boost in C-band performance specifically when used with those X65 modems next year, over and above the initial C-band launches.

Fastest 5G network speeds

When it comes to 5G, nothing beats T-Mobile yet again. The Un-carrier managed to score 191 Mbps median download speeds over its 5G network, while the second Verizon offered 107 Mbps, and AT&T was third with 68 Mbps. T-Mobile also showed the highest, 65% of 5G network availability, indicating that its layered cake strategy and the mid-bands it scored from the merger with Sprint, were the right moves at the time.

With the rollout of the C-Band spectrum that Verizon and AT&T bought en masse, the 5G networks ranking in the US may change, but for now T-Mobile clearly has a leg up in the coverage buildout and band mix of its next-gen network.

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