Mobile rakes in the awards in OpenSignal's 'State of Mobile Networks' report

Posted January 23, 2018

Although anecdotally T-Mobile hasn't been known to have comparable availability to Verizon, for whatever reason it has beaten Big Red in OpenSignal's tests. And that should mean that the latest Open Signal figures have no bias toward T-Mobile.

Credit: Roman Tiraspolsky/ShutterstockT-Mobile "is now the operator to beat", OpenSignal says in its latest report on the state of US mobile Networks.

It's important to highlight Sprint's big gains across the board, with the "Now Network" all of a sudden looking like a strong candidate for speed and availability podiums going forward, while Verizon and AT&T deserve a bit of praise as well for recovering what they lost in the immediate wake of their unlimited plan rollouts.

Though AT&T has also stemmed its LTE speed decline, its recovery has been more muted.

Credit: OpenSignalT-Mobile claimed first in the category that most wireless users pay attention to - the speed of its 4G network. This reduces the traffic on the network and helps boost speeds for other customers who rely exclusively on their 4G connection to make calls and use data for applications. Above you'll find a graph of network speeds over the past year - this data is also from OpenSignal. It was the first major USA operator to launch LTE when the technology was only in its infancy, and when Verizon's 4G speeds began suffering under capacity strains in 2013, it responded with a major upgrade it called XLTE, which poured enormous amounts of capacity back into its networks. That basically means Ma Bell's network is the most responsive of the four, although T-Mobile wasn't far behind in that classification either. In comparison, T-Mobile won every other category except availability by a reasonable margin. The router will be available free of charge for existing AT&T customers. T-Mobile may have emerged as the dominant operator in our metrics, but it would be a mistake to dismiss Verizon. Sprint still sat in last place in 4G speed, but if it continues its steep upwards trajectory, it could soon put pressure on AT&T for the third-place slot. That neck-and-neck race was evident in our 33-city analysis where Verizon had the advantage. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are in the race to roll out 5G networks toward the end of this year and T-Mobile will target a full rollout by 2020.

Save for AT&T's win in the 4G latency rankings, T-Mobile brought home the gold in 4G download speed, 3G download speed, overall download speed, 3G latency and 4G availability. AT&T scores 87.07 percent and Sprint scored 85.66 percent. Sprint was by far the most improved operator in LTE reach in 2017. All other categories were dominated by T-Mobile. Sprint and Verizon fell far behind with both at almost 70ms. Sprint brought up the rear among the major carriers, though OpenSignal noted that its 12 Mbps average was 3 Mbps faster than in the firm's previous report. If T-Mobile's service is so good, why don't they have more customers than their competitors?