Proving which phone carrier is the best can be a difficult endeavor to take up, and sometimes you need a bit more than anecdotal evidence.
Commercials featuring big floating blue and red maps help a little, but that story about how you couldn't eat at that one restaurant in Nowheresville, Calif., because you couldn't load up your Groupon on your smartphone helps even less so.
Fortunately, the guys over at RootMetrics released a year in review report to sum up how well different carriers performed in 2011.
If the name RootMetrics looks familiar to you, it might be because you've seen its interactive coverage map included in every one of our cell phone reviews.
"We're really all about consumer advocacy," said Bill Moore, CEO and president of RootMetrics. "We do exactly what consumers do," in terms of testing the performance of major carriers.
Instead of making calls in a lab setting with lab equipment, Moore told CNET, RootMetrics traveled to more than 50 cities and used off-the-shelf phones to download files, make calls, and send texts.
Tests were held indoors, outdoors, and while driving in a car (in total, more than 103,000 miles were driven during the course of this year's testing). For every carrier, the higher-end, best available phones were chosen for testing to "show the network in the best light," Moore said.
Carriers were rated on four categories per city: data, calls, texts, and overall performance. To see who came out on top (and who was subpar), read on.… Read more