Each of the Big Four wireless carriers in the United States, namely Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, like to claim at some point that they provide either the best coverage, the most reliable connection, or the fastest speed. Sometimes it is hard for the average mobile user to know exactly which is which, and how to distinguish between advertising and objective data.
It is a good thing there are studies conducted by various independent third parties that attempt to shed more light on the matter, although not always without some controversy. The latest of these is a study done by testing firm OpenSignal in the United States, and the results may be surprising to many.
According to OpenSignal’s findings, T-Mobile got some really impressive citations, grabbing the top scores for categories such as connection speed and responsiveness of its 3G network. Not too surprising is industry leader Verizon Wireless garnering the top honors for the coverage of its 4G network. In terms of 4G connection speeds, both Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile shared the title. As for the responsiveness of 4G networks, Sprint goes home with the honors. A little less expected is AT&T, collecting no top honors at all. Considered the second biggest wireless carrier in the US, AT&T should have at least taken an award somewhere, but the company is left empty handed.
T-Mobile’s network speed was clocked by OpenSignal at an average of 12.3 mbps, just edging out Verizon Wireless at 12 mbps. Because both wireless carrier’s number were so close, OpenSignal decided to give the two competitors the 4G speed top honors jointly. While T-Mobile celebrated the results of the study, the Big Red was a bit wary, saying that studies based on crowd sourced information could prove to be misleading, especially if certain sections of the crowd can not always connect reliably to a specific network.
Some say that today’s mobile users are getting smarter than ever, or would like to think they are. When deciding which carrier to subscribe to, consumers now acquire every information they can get about network performance and quality of coverage. This is why tests such as the one performed by OpenSignal are becoming more and more important. On the other hand, the results of these studies also serve as fuel for wireless carriers in boasting of their capabilities. For instance, Sprint, who was awarded the best in terms of responsiveness of its 4G network, cited another study conducted by Nielsen that showed Sprint having the fastest connection speed among the Big Four.
In accumulating its data, OpenSignal made full use of its mobile app, which functions similarly to Ookla’s Speedtest.net. In OpenSignal’s case, it collected information from over 180,000 mobile users. Studies done by RootMetrics, typically acquire information via drive tests, wherein drivers are sent out to monitor various mobile devices connected to different networks.
In concluding its results, OpenSignal states that overall, wireless carriers in the US are not that much better than those carriers in foreign countries. The average speed in America is 9.9 mbps, while in many other nations, they have a far more consistent connection at easily double the speed.
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