Verizon Named 2018's Fastest Mobile Network in PCMag's Annual Carrier Showdown

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
49,021
10,372



Verizon Wireless was awarded the title of the fastest nationwide mobile network in PCMag's annual mobile network comparison, the results of which were released this morning.

For its test, PCMag analysts drove within and between 30 cities in the United States to test mobile network speeds using four Samsung Galaxy S9 phones. More than a dozen locations in each city were tested, with the site gathering more than 124,000 data points to reach its conclusion. Scores were calculated taking into account metrics like download speed, upload speed, latency, reliability, and consistency.


Verizon was named the overall fastest network after it won or tied in 19 of the 36 cities that were tested across the United States, marking Verizon's 5th annual victory.

Verizon won out in almost every region (Northeast, North Central, South Central, Northwest, and Southwest), with the exception of the Southeast, where T-Mobile was determined to be the fastest network. T-Mobile was also named the second fastest network overall, followed by AT&T and then Sprint.

PCMag says that compared to its 2017 results, it saw faster, more consistent LTE connections across all four major U.S. carriers in the 2018 test. In the future, we should see some interesting results as mobile networks are upgraded to 5G. AT&T and Verizon are both aiming for higher speeds in smaller areas, while T-Mobile is aiming for nationwide 5G coverage but at slower speeds.

In addition to determining the fastest mobile carrier in 2018, PCMag also took a look at Speedtest Intelligence results pulled from Ookla to determine the fastest download speeds on modern Samsung and Apple devices.


Samsung's flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S9, equipped with Gigabit LTE and 4x4 MIMO, beat out the iPhone X, which does not have 4x4 MIMO. Of Apple's iPhones, though, the iPhone X saw the fastest upload and download speeds thanks to its adoption of 256QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), which boosts signal to allow for more data to be transferred at one time.


The full results of PCMag's 2018 mobile carrier speed testing can be found over on the PCMag website.

Article Link: Verizon Named 2018's Fastest Mobile Network in PCMag's Annual Carrier Showdown
 

Dodgeman

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2016
1,302
198
Verizon prices are too high. T-Mobile would be my choice, but with Sprint prices I may move over there & "see how it goes"
 

AppleFan78

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2014
105
60
Definitely not what I experience with Verizon's Go Unlimited plan. Speeds are severely bad, much worse than I had with Sprint. It's just a way for Verizon to suck more money out of you, almost forcing you to upgrade to the more expensive plan.
 

snowboarder

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2007
514
1,955
I setup my European phone number. I pay $6 (six) per month for unlimited internet/unlimited calls and texts anywhere in Europe. I regularly get 150 MBps download speed on LTE. Pretty incredible how far behind we are...

In the US we pay $120/month for two lines, grandfathered AT&T unlimited iPhone accounts.
 

zubikov

macrumors regular
Sep 3, 2014
130
455
PA
Another reminder that Sprint is terrible. If you find yourself asking "is Sprint really that bad?", the answer is "Yes". I constantly find myself scrambling for coverage in very densely populated areas. Looking into switching to either Verizon or Tmobile in a few months.

Let's face it, T-mobile and Verizon are neck in neck. As long as you have coverage in all of your traveled locations and have actual LTE, according to these results you're going to have a good experience with either of the top two carriers.
 

KPandian1

macrumors 65816
Oct 22, 2013
1,493
2,428
Must upgrade from 5S just for this, if the next SE has 600MHz.
 
Last edited:

SumYoungGai

macrumors 6502a
Jun 11, 2013
703
649
SF Bay Area, CA
Definitely not what I experience with Verizon's Go Unlimited plan. Speeds are severely bad, much worse than I had with Sprint. It's just a way for Verizon to suck more money out of you, almost forcing you to upgrade to the more expensive plan.
Yep. They phased out the 'new' unlimited plan in favor for two unlimited plans that we have now but you can still ask for it on chat if I recall correctly. I'm grandfathered in and it's $100 for UDP + $20/line which is a steal for 4+ lines when you look at $50/line for Beyond.
 

Craiger

macrumors 6502a
Jul 11, 2007
839
216
Damn, that website is a hot mess.

Also, on a personal note, they didn't test Nashville?
 

democracyrules

Suspended
Nov 18, 2016
997
608
Another reminder that Sprint is terrible. If you find yourself asking "is Sprint really that bad?", the answer is "Yes". I constantly find myself scrambling for coverage in very densely populated areas. Looking into switching to either Verizon or Tmobile in a few months.

Let's face it, T-mobile and Verizon are neck in neck. As long as you have coverage in all of your traveled locations and have actual LTE, according to these results you're going to have a good experience with either of the top two carriers.
T-Mobile area coverage between states is poor compared to Verizon. As a traveler, Verizon is the best. T-Mobile strength is in the Metro areas which are somehow limited. The signal strength inside buildings is poor compared to Verizon. However, choose whatever fits with your budget and purchasing power. Pick T-Mobile, be ready for all baggages coming along with their lower price. You get what you pay for.
 

Dormammu

macrumors 65816
T-Mobile area coverage between states is poor compared to Verizon. As a traveler, Verizon is the best. T-Mobile strength is in the Metro areas which are somehow limited. The signal strength inside buildings is poor compared to Verizon. However, choose whatever fits with your budget and purchasing power. Pick T-Mobile, be ready for all baggages coming along with their lower price. You get what you pay for.
Funny you mention the building penetration thing. I’ve noticed the same with T-Mobile as well. What could this be due to? I assume that ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile are broadcasting over the same “signals?”
 

blucable

macrumors regular
Jul 16, 2012
112
15
I do not believe those numbers. It may be the fastest network in some busy areas. Anyways, I put an iPhone 6 with AT&T besides 2 iPhone 6S plus with t-mobile and verizon. The AT&T phone had 2 bars and the other 2 phones had full bars. The AT&T phone had a 18Mbps download while the other 2 phones had barely 7Mbps...

Been using AT&T for 11 years now, I am happy with it...
 

TheShadowKnows!

macrumors 6502a
Sep 30, 2014
857
1,719
National Capital Region
I own a SE, so I get no love on this test.

My bandwidth interest lies on cellular tethering of my MBPr using my iPhone when at remote or locked-down, firewalled sites.

This is why I pay special attention to both DOWN[consume] and UP[produce] bandwidth off the tether.

And these results, paying attention to the ratio between DOWN and UP bandwidth for each device, show the following:
  1. X::= 31.18[DOWN] 9.88[UP] 32%[%UP/DOWN]
  2. 7::= 28.05[DOWN] 8.04[UP] 29%[%UP/DOWN]
  3. 6S::= 25.43[DOWN] 7.74[UP] 30%[%UP/DOWN]
  4. 6::= 19.02[DOWN] 8.14[UP] 43%[%UP/DOWN]
They all hover around 8M[UP].
So no real gains when "producing" bandwidth among the four.
And definitely I could live with 20M[DOWN] bandwidth on these remote sites.
 

tzm41

macrumors regular
Jul 11, 2014
238
677
Boston
Funny you mention the building penetration thing. I’ve noticed the same with T-Mobile as well. What could this be due to? I assume that ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile are broadcasting over the same “signals?”
Different bands penetrate buildings differently. T-Mobile has hardly deployed their acquired lower frequency bands yet, yielding a poorer indoor experience.
 

PowerGala

macrumors regular
Aug 26, 2016
186
262
It also depends on your location. For me, Sprint is the best because they’re the only one who has service at my house. Living in a rural location kind of sucks for conectivity, but at least I can have horses.

T-Mobile? AT&T? Verizon? No connection.
Sprint? 2-3 bars LTE.
 

Amazing Iceman

macrumors 68040
Nov 8, 2008
3,961
1,555
Florida, U.S.A.
Verizon prices are too high. T-Mobile would be my choice, but with Sprint prices I may move over there & "see how it goes"
I had Sprint before and I promised to myself to never go back to them.
And I know about other horror stories about their terrible customer support and intimidation tactics.
I'm in the SouthEast, very happy with T-Mobile service. I also have an iPad with a grandfathered LTE plan ($30.00/month), which is very useful in some areas where T-Mobile signal may be weak.
 

QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,319
1,349
Colorado Springs, CO
I think we’re at the point that speed doesn’t matter as much anymore. Ever since I jumped to LTE years ago I haven’t had an issue with speed.

Is the US getting raked over the coals on price vs Europe. Yep, but we all know it. Talking about it won’t change that.
 

Stewie

macrumors 6502
Jan 6, 2004
425
192
Austin
I think we’re at the point that speed doesn’t matter as much anymore. Ever since I jumped to LTE years ago I haven’t had an issue with speed.

Is the US getting raked over the coals on price vs Europe. Yep, but we all know it. Talking about it won’t change that.
Mostly true. It is when you start getting speeds under 3 Mbps or so that you can start to have issues doing things. Which is why I didn't switch to T-Mobile. At my office the speeds were under that. Everywhere else they were acceptable Not as fast as AT&T or Verizon in my area, but acceptable.
 

Dodgeman

macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2016
1,302
198
Yep. They phased out the 'new' unlimited plan in favor for two unlimited plans that we have now but you can still ask for it on chat if I recall correctly. I'm grandfathered in and it's $100 for UDP + $20/line which is a steal for 4+ lines when you look at $50/line for Beyond.
For me 3 lines would cost $170 without phones added in.
Every other carrier is lower. At this price I am not sure it is worth it.

T-Mobile area coverage between states is poor compared to Verizon. As a traveler, Verizon is the best. T-Mobile strength is in the Metro areas which are somehow limited. The signal strength inside buildings is poor compared to Verizon. However, choose whatever fits with your budget and purchasing power. Pick T-Mobile, be ready for all baggages coming along with their lower price. You get what you pay for.
What is the baggage that comes with T-Mobile ?

Interesting because my T-Mobile phone is faster than my Verizon work phone
Thats good to here.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.