How the Big 4 Network Coverage Equate in the US

OpenSignal has recently released its report ‘State of Mobile Networks: USA (Feb 2016)’  that details the 3G and 4G comparative performance of the big U.S 4 mobile operators’ networks as assessed by OpenSignal’s 182, 000 users. The ad war on TV of these operators is heating up. T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint are using every trick in their ads to showcase themselves as the better networks compared to others. T-Mobile even sarcastically  explains how they outperform other networks.

T-Mobile boasted about its last year’s big gains in coverage. OpenSource latest data also support this claim that shows T-Mobile’s coverage reach time is at 81% times. This means T-Mobile 4G users experienced 81.2 percent times of its LTE signal, irrespective of wherever and whenever they might have accessed the network (see OpenSource time coverage methodology). For T-Mobile this was possible because of its recent expansion of airwaves of 700 MHz. These airways of low frequency are capable of travelling to farther distance both rural and suburban areas. They even provide better and stronger signals indoor by easily perforating through walls in dense urban areas.

T-Mobile has to do a lot still in coverage, if it aims to overtake the 2 U.S large operators, AT&T and Verizon. However, OpenSource coverage measurement finds T-Mobile reaches within the striking distance of AT&T’s 82.6 percent score. However, with 86.7 percent coverage time, Verizon is still leading the pack in time coverage and network reachability. In comparison, T-Mobile reachability looks poor, as it has a lot of improvement to make.

Verizon and T-Mobile locked evenly in speed matrix in quarter four, though T-Mobile validly claims to be the best reliable network in the U.S. OpenSource measured average download speed of LTE of Verizon as 12 Mbps, that of T-Mobile as 12.3 Mbps which is almost a tie between the two with only a slight statistical difference.

Even OpenSource comparison of performance of LTE downlink in the 11 biggest markets in U.S shows virtually even results. T-Mobile has the upper hand in 4 cities that includes New York, whereas Verizon in 3 cities that includes Los Angeles, while both have a tie in 3 markets. Statistically, in the Houston market, the 11th one, for all the 4 big US wide operators it is a draw. In speed, T-Mobile is outdoing its competitors continuously for many quarters consecutively because of its past few years’ upgraded capacities. Verizon has also upgraded itself, and may even recover its position in speed matrix.

Network Coverage Comparison

With its latest ad blitz, Sprint is creating ripples in the market claiming its LTE Plus as the U.S’s fastest one. But OpenSource measurement shows the 4G connection of Sprint still as the U.S’s slowest one at average 6.6 Mbps download speed. Sprint seemingly appears quoting measurements of LTE Plus solely, that has seen recent technology upgrades in a hundred fifty cities. This technology upgrade uses smart and significantly connection speed boosting antennas and operator aggregation. However, the limit for Sprint is that all its all 4G devices are unable to connect to LTE Plus as its network  has urban area  limitation. However, OpenSource measurement of average speed taken across Sprint’s all LTE connections shows that its 4G is not yet optimized.

However, 4G speeds from Sprint are definitely increasing last one year, because of more customers opting to its amplified towers of LTE networks. Though it was way behind other operators for years in the overall performance of LTE, Sprint is trying to catch up the competition.

Don’t forget to check OpenSource’s full report that also details network latency and 3G performance. Also check the interactive charts presented therein. OpenSource plans to release the U.S related new report once in six months. It anticipates entirely a different mobile scenario after August 2016, because of the aggressive approach of the U.S operators.


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