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AT&T Jumps to First Place in U.S. Mobile Speeds, but Verizon Still Most Consistent

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Apr 12, 2001
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Ookla, the company behind the popular Speedtest bandwidth measurement service, today released its 2019 Speedtest Mobile Performance Report, leveraging over 11.5 million speed tests from over 4 million unique devices to rank the network performance of the major U.S. carriers during the first half of 2019.

Overall, Ookla found that the mean mobile download speed rose to 33.88 Mbps during the first half of the year, up 24 percent compared to the same period in 2018. That improvement allowed the U.S. to rise from 43rd to 40th in the global rankings of mobile download performance. Mean upload speeds rose 13 percent to 9.75 Mbps, which actually resulted in a drop of 21 spots to 94th in the global rankings.


Looking at the four major U.S. carriers, AT&T came out on top in this year's survey with a Speed Score (a weighted rating of 90% download and 10% upload speeds) of 32.91, with T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint following behind. That marks a significant improvement for AT&T, which placed third in last year's survey.
Delivering LTE service over seven licensed frequency bands and increasing the amount of seeded devices capable of four and five carrier aggregation has been paying off for AT&T. Over the past year, AT&T has managed to leapfrog the competition to produce the fastest download speeds across the country.

AT&T's addition of FirstNet spectrum meant a required maintenance visit to cell sites and the addition of brand new hardware at those locations. AT&T wisely used this opportunity to also upgrade the existing radio access infrastructure, including replacing the aging Alcatel-Lucent equipment with Nokia in some areas and adding the 2.3 GHz WCS spectrum for additional capacity. This strategy, combined with a slew of Category 15-20 LTE smartphones, meant a tremendous boost in coverage, speeds and overall capacity.
But beyond raw download and upload speeds, Ookla also looked at several other metrics including Acceptable Speed Ratio, which is the percent of samples from a given carrier that measured at least 5 Mbps. By this metric, Verizon maintained its spot atop the rankings from last year, with 87.3 percent of samples meeting the 5 Mbps standard in 2019. T-Mobile and AT&T were fairly close behind at 86.9 percent and 85.9 percent respectively, with Sprint trailing at 81.2 percent.


Verizon also topped the rankings in 4G LTE support, with 95.9 percent of time spent on what is currently the fastest mainstream standard. T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T rounded out the rankings, with AT&T users still seeing 7.4 percent of time spent on 3G technology.


Looking ahead toward 5G technology that's just starting to roll out, Ookla has opted not to release performance data at this point due to the very limited geographies where it's available and lack of widespread device support for now, but the company has seen speeds in excess of 2 Gbps in some real-world consumer speed tests.

Ookla has plenty more data on its page dedicated to this year's study, including a state-by-state breakdown where you can see how the major carriers rank on a more localized basis.

Article Link: AT&T Jumps to First Place in U.S. Mobile Speeds, but Verizon Still Most Consistent
 

ThomasJL

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2008
841
1,619
Are those speeds achieved using what AT&T deceptively calls “5GE” when in reality it’s just 4G?
 
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ersan191

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2013
1,483
2,523
The whole testing system is flawed tbh - all the carriers have multiple tiers of prioritization and often ookla can’t tell the difference...

For example on Verizon postpaid I’ll get like 100mbps prioritized, but prepaid or “go unlimited” will give me 2mbps, and they all are Verizon as far as ookla is concerned.
 
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AllergyDoc

macrumors 68000
Mar 17, 2013
1,704
4,751
Utah, USA
I got 142.46 on my Xr a week ago. Had 4 bars, have only one at home. T-Mobile. Best speed I’ve ever had. In Orem, UT.
BCA372F9-CBF9-4D09-B5BA-A798E45E16C1.jpeg
 

WannaGoMac

macrumors 68030
Feb 11, 2007
2,521
3,777
I call complete garbage. AT&T is the worst in the area I use it. It speeds are consistently ridiculously low
 

dlewis23

macrumors 65816
Oct 23, 2007
1,012
1,149
It still really depends on where you live as to who is the fastest no one carrier is consistent across the country.
[doublepost=1562678265][/doublepost]
I call complete garbage. AT&T is the worst in the area I use it. It speeds are consistently ridiculously low

Just because they are the worst in your area doesn't mean they are not fastest in others.
 

JetTester

macrumors 6502
Feb 12, 2014
461
885
My experience has been that Verizon works well almost everywhere, and AT&T has a lot of locations where you just don’t get a connection. Doesn’t matter how fast it is if you can’t make a connection.
 
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M.PaulCezanne

macrumors 6502a
Mar 5, 2014
811
1,558
I pay $80/mo for full T-Mobile One service for TWO lines ($40 per line). Verizon's equivalent plan costs at least TWICE as much, while ATT's is nearly twice. Network speeds are virtually identical. The choice is crystal clear for me.
 
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ersan191

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2013
1,483
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I pay $80/mo for full T-Mobile One service for TWO lines ($40 per line). Verizon's equivalent plan costs at least TWICE as much, while ATT's is nearly twice. Network speeds are virtually identical. The choice is crystal clear for me.
Most people pay $120 - comparing carriers based on grandfathered promo pricing isn't very fair.

Also Visible (owned by Verizon) is $40 per line.
 

wayland1985

macrumors 6502a
Jan 16, 2008
524
10
I pay $80/mo for full T-Mobile One service for TWO lines ($40 per line). Verizon's equivalent plan costs at least TWICE as much, while ATT's is nearly twice. Network speeds are virtually identical. The choice is crystal clear for me.
I’ve been with AT&T for years... I had T-Mobile maybe 15 years back, but it was spotty around here in MA.

I keep seeing the T-Mobile ads with the prices, and keep considering a change of carrier... But I’m afraid of what kind of coverage I’ll have
 

M.PaulCezanne

macrumors 6502a
Mar 5, 2014
811
1,558
Most people pay $120 - comparing carriers based on grandfathered promo pricing isn't very fair.

Also Visible (owned by Verizon) is $40 per line.
Fair point, but a $40/mo cost difference for a negligible speed difference is significant (IMHO).
 
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harriska2

macrumors 65816
Mar 16, 2011
1,338
671
Oregon
We pay $32 per phone for Verizon 22tb/11tb hotspot per month per phone limit on the family plan. Been on it 2 years without issue. Used it in BFE Idaho, smalltown Washington, and even Eastern Oregon.
 

jamezr

macrumors G5
Aug 7, 2011
13,853
12,426
US
Was a T-Mobile customer for years...best customer service of any carrier in my experiences. But their coverage fell off the planet in buildings or outside of big cities. Switched to verizon and love the coverage...no dropped calls and i can get data service in buildings and areas outside of big cities when hiking.
 
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ovo6

Cancelled
Sep 10, 2015
828
435
Att internet is trash lmao , can’t even go out in Miami where there is a crow and have internet
 

Breaking Good

macrumors 65816
Sep 28, 2012
1,296
1,010
My take away from this is that there is nothing here that justifies paying more for one cellular carrier over another. Go with the least expensive carrier that has coverage in the places you frequent and periodically re-evaluate your choice to see if there are better options.
 

MarkDeMoss

macrumors newbie
May 24, 2012
9
42
I'm on Verizon using their Beyond Unlimited Plan. It's a single phone plan so I pay $85. I'd switch to another carrier, but all four carriers cost the same for the same features (plus or minus $5).

If a get another line, then the carriers will give us a paltry $5-10 discount. It takes 3 lines before you start seeing $30-40 discounts per line. It's so stark that 3 lines is the same price as 2 lines on some carriers.

I recently drove from Connecticut to Tennessee and back. My friend has AT&T Unlimited. It's was good to have both carriers as we were in the mountains, some places I would get coverage and another place he had coverage. There was one point where we were on the Blue Ridge Mountain and if we would have had the same carrier we might have run out of gas.

I switched from having AT&T two years ago to Verizon and honestly I think it's a wash. I had AT&T for 18 years prior to the switch. I thought Verizon would be better in rural parts but that's not necessarily been the case for me. I guess I thought Verizon would be SO MUCH better than AT&T and so it's disappointed me. It's not worse, may be a bit better, but it's not so big that it'd make me loyal to Verizon.

What I like about Verizon and this is why I switched in June 2017 is because their iPhones are unlocked to all carriers. I remember trying to get a friend's Sprint iPhone unlocked by Sprint (which they say you can do), it was such a nightmare, we ended up giving up and just selling it.

I also like the free Apple Music on Verizon. The Hulu and Netflix offerings of other carriers wouldn't work for me as I prefer the top tier Hulu and Netflix plans. The free Amazon Prime on Sprint would be a nice feature though.
 

MoreRumors?

macrumors 6502a
Feb 28, 2018
884
669
This is speed comparison among the carriers is meaningless to me and I would want to see consistent speeds across the country. All this does is give the carriers egos and a reason to raise prices. I have been in various states and the service is inconsistent and worse in small towns. As 5G is starting to roll out this year, I don't expect to see widespread service until at least 5yrs.
 
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ersan191

macrumors 65816
Oct 26, 2013
1,483
2,523
Fair point, but a $40/mo cost difference for a negligible speed difference is significant (IMHO).
I'm not sure what you mean - Visible is the same price as your grandfathered T-Mobile plan. It's not really about speed, it's about coverage.
[doublepost=1562707359][/doublepost]
I'm on Verizon using their Beyond Unlimited Plan. It's a single phone plan so I pay $85. I'd switch to another carrier, but all four carriers cost the same for the same features (plus or minus $5).

If a get another line, then the carriers will give us a paltry $5-10 discount. It takes 3 lines before you start seeing $30-40 discounts per line. It's so stark that 3 lines is the same price as 2 lines on some carriers.

I recently drove from Connecticut to Tennessee and back. My friend has AT&T Unlimited. It's was good to have both carriers as we were in the mountains, some places I would get coverage and another place he had coverage. There was one point where we were on the Blue Ridge Mountain and if we would have had the same carrier we might have run out of gas.

I switched from having AT&T two years ago to Verizon and honestly I think it's a wash. I had AT&T for 18 years prior to the switch. I thought Verizon would be better in rural parts but that's not necessarily been the case for me. I guess I thought Verizon would be SO MUCH better than AT&T and so it's disappointed me. It's not worse, may be a bit better, but it's not so big that it'd make me loyal to Verizon.

What I like about Verizon and this is why I switched in June 2017 is because their iPhones are unlocked to all carriers. I remember trying to get a friend's Sprint iPhone unlocked by Sprint (which they say you can do), it was such a nightmare, we ended up giving up and just selling it.

I also like the free Apple Music on Verizon. The Hulu and Netflix offerings of other carriers wouldn't work for me as I prefer the top tier Hulu and Netflix plans. The free Amazon Prime on Sprint would be a nice feature though.
I hate to sound like a shill, but Visible has a single line unlimited plan for $40 T&F included and it's on the Verizon network, albeit deprioritized (same level as Go Unlimited).
[doublepost=1562707530][/doublepost]
This is speed comparison among the carriers is meaningless to me and I would want to see consistent speeds across the country. All this does is give the carriers egos and a reason to raise prices. I have been in various states and the service is inconsistent and worse in small towns. As 5G is starting to roll out this year, I don't expect to see widespread service until at least 5yrs.
This, especially when most carriers cap video and tethering bandwidth anyway - you know, the only things you do with your phone that actually need speed. I wouldn't be surprised if they cap app store downloads next.
 
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macnchiefs

macrumors regular
Mar 22, 2009
121
74
The difference between carriers is so incredibly small in regard to both speed and consistency. It's really a geographic question that you need to answer. What network is best where you live or spend the most time. That is the carrier you should sign up for.
 
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Wide opeN

macrumors 68000
Aug 27, 2010
1,753
1,018
Georgia
The difference between carriers is so incredibly small in regard to both speed and consistency. It's really a geographic question that you need to answer. What network is best where you live or spend the most time. That is the carrier you should sign up for.

☝ This to the highest power!!!

In Atlanta as confirmed by MYSELF and Ookla T-Mobile is king. And so I march on.
 
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