Fastest 4G LTE network in the US? AT&T leads according to Ookla

While AT&T led on speed, the first half of 2019 saw some nice improvements in 4G from all four major carriers.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
2 min read

AT&T took the top spot for speed in Ookla's latest US network tests. 

Eva Hambach / AFP/Getty Images

Next-generation 5G networks may be finally coming online around the country, but there is still plenty of progress being made on 4G. 

In its latest report chronicling US wireless network performance during the first half of 2019, Ookla found that AT&T's 4G LTE network -- err, "5GE" -- was the fastest 4G network in the US, though all four networks showed marked improvements during the period. T-Mobile was second, followed by Sprint and Verizon

Verizon and T-Mobile users spent the most time connected to 4G, as opposed to falling back to older networks or losing coverage. Verizon users were connected to 4G nearly 96% of the time, a nearly 5% lead over second-place T-Mobile, and at 3.3% had the fewest experiences of "no coverage."

Over 4.1 million "unique mobile user devices" performed over 11.5 million tests on the Speedtest apps to gather the data. Ookla is the company behind Speedtest.net and the Speedtest app. 

Rhode Island was the fastest state for downloads, clocking in at an average of 49.71Mbps, with Verizon and Sprint both performing well. Minnesota (led by T-Mobile), Washington, D.C. (AT&T), Delaware (AT&T) and Massachusetts (AT&T) rounded out the top five of fastest states and areas.  Wyoming remained the slowest state for the second straight year, with mean download speeds just shy of 20Mbps. 

Average download speeds in the US over mobile networks were up 24% from the same period last year, rising to 33.88Mbps. Average upload speeds rose to 9.75Mbps, a 13% increase, though they didn't increase as fast as other parts in the world. On its worldwide charts, Ookla now has America ranked 40th on download speeds (up three spots) and 94th for downloads (a drop of 21 spots).

While the 4G improvements are great for the short term, of equal importance is the impact these upgrades could have for a faster 5G rollout. By improving the radios and infrastructure at their respective towers, the carriers are much better equipped for deploying 5G, with Ookla referencing T-Mobile's new Ericsson radios that can support 5G with "an over-the-air software push."