YOU ARE AT:5GRootMetrics: Verizon is still the network to beat, but AT&T brings the...

RootMetrics: Verizon is still the network to beat, but AT&T brings the best speeds

In RootMetrics’ first round of benchmarking that used 5G-enabled devices to test both 4G and 5G networks, Verizon and AT&T ran neck-and-neck in most categories. But Verizon ultimately topped the rankings in most performance metrics, although AT&T outpaced Verizon in terms of speed.

RootMetrics temporarily suspended its test teams’ work earlier this year due to COVID-19 restrictions and opted to forgo indoor testing for safety reasons once it re-started testing in June. The company’s report is based on more than 2.7 million tests, including more than 200,000 drive-testing miles and more than 3,000 places visited in 125 metropolitan areas across the U.S. RootMetrics broke down its results on a nationwide basis and in each of the 50 states, plus closer analysis in the 125 metro areas.

RootMetrics included 5G testing where available and noted that this latest round of testing is the first time that it has used 5G-enabled devices to test both 4G and 5G.

AT&T clocked the fastest U.S. aggregate median download speed among all networks — including the former Sprint network — at 42 Mbps. Verizon’s aggregate median download speed on a national basis was 36 Mbps, followed by the Sprint network at 28.4 Mbps and T-Mobile US at 20 Mbps. AT&T, RootMetrics noted, provided fast speeds not just in cities, but in the company’s tests beyond metropolitan markets. However, the results in cities were impressive: AT&T delivered median download speeds of at least 40 Mbps in the most markets of any carrier (67 markets), and speeds faster than 50 Mbps in 42 of those markets. Its single-fastest median download speed was the top speed that RootMetrics recorded: 83.7 Mbps in Fayetteville, NC.

Verizon won five of RootMetrics’ testing categories outright on a national basis: the overall ranking, plus the categories of reliability, accessibility, speed, data performance, voice performance and calling, with a three-way tie for first in text performance with AT&T and the Sprint network. But those wins were the difference in just a point or two of scoring over AT&T.

“These results reinforce what many of our customers already know, Verizon consistently provides the nation’s most reliable network experience,” said Kyle Malady, CTO at Verizon, in a statement on the RootMetrics testing. “The stringent methodology of these reports reinforces our network approach as we continue to accelerate the deployment of our 5G Ultra Wideband network and prepare to launch our nationwide 5G network this year.”

Sprint’s network, which is now in the process of being integrated in T-Mobile US’, saw notable improvements in multiple categories at the national level; it ranked third in most categories and fourth in none, after ranking fourth in five out of seven categories in the previous round of testing. RootMetrics noted that its Sprint 5G testing was conducted before T-Mobile US shut down Sprint’s 5G network in June.

T-Mobile US was ranked fourth of the national networks in six out of seven categories — but it has historically performed better on a city-level basis than on a national level, and that continues to be the case. RootMetrics said that as the carrier continues its 5G rollout, its nationwide numbers should improve.

Verizon also performed very well at the metro level, scoring 329 metro-level awards compared to AT&T’s 193, T-Mobile US’ 78 and 70 for the Sprint network. However, RootMetrics pointed out that due to the pause and changes in its testing before and during the pandemic, only 55 of the 125 metro markets have formal winners, and the other 70 do not.

Access RootMetrics’ full US Mobile State of the Union report for the first half of 2020 here. 


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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