New wireless rankings continue to show US 4G improvements ahead of 5G

Even as 5G looms, 4G networks in the US are still getting stronger.

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
In this photo illustration the Verizon Wireless logo is seen

Verizon continues to have one of the US' strongest 4G networks, according to two new industry reports. 

Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

US 4G wireless networks continued to show overall improvement even as 5G's expansion continues to loom over the industry. In new industry rankings from wireless industry trackers IHS Markit's RootMetrics and OpenSignal, Verizon continues to be praised for its robust nationwide 4G network while AT&T was once again found to have greatly improved its speed. 

The new rankings come a week after Speedtest.net owner Ookla released its first-half industry report

There were some discrepancies between the RootMetrics and Opensignal reports, which run millions of tests evaluating the carriers on national and regional levels. Whereas T-Mobile was praised for its speed and 4G availability by OpenSignal during its second-quarter tests, the nation's third-largest carrier, while fast on speeds, ranked "third or fourth in every category at the national level" that RootMetrics tested  

The firm notes that some of its rankings were due to improvements by other carriers, particularly Verizon, and that the carrier continues to perform "much better in metropolitan markets than it does at state or national levels." 

RootMetrics found Sprint to have passed T-Mobile and risen to third place in network reliability, though the beleaguered fourth-largest carrier was well behind its counterparts in speed. Verizon won 263 awards from RootMetrics, breaking through prior ties to grow its lead on AT&T (113 awards), T-Mobile (18) and Sprint (10). 

OpenSignal saw T-Mobile win its Mobile Experience Awards for download (23.6Mbps compared to Verizon's 22.9Mbps, AT&T's 22.5Mbps and Sprint's 19.2Mbps) and upload speed experiences, which combines speeds with 4G availability. Verizon took the crown for best video experience while edging out T-Mobile to win best 4G availability. AT&T and T-Mobile tied for best latency performance amongst the four carriers. 

The stronger performance comes as US wireless carriers continue to upgrade networks in preparation for 5G, giving consumers an improved experience without needing to wait for the new networks to arrive in their cities.