RootMetrics: T-Mobile 4G is faster than you think

A quarterly review of six U.S. carriers shows T-Mobile outperforming three, including the top-tier Sprint.

Jessica Dolcourt Senior Editorial Director, Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Thought Leadership, Speed Desk and How-To. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica led CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Jessica Dolcourt
RootMetrics' T-Mobile speed graph
RootMetrics measured T-Mobile data speeds in 42 markets across the U.S. RootMetrics

NEW ORLEANS--Theoretical speeds are one thing, but the majority of smartphone owners will agree that real-life data speeds are what count.

Comprehensively charting each carriers' data network is the subject of RootMetric's quarterly report.

So far, the company scouts have systematically combed 42 urban and suburban markets to compare 3G and 4G data speeds.

Their methodology includes test calls, data downloads, and texting. Scouts record how easily they could get onto the network and perform tasks, and then run diagnostic speed tests through RootMetrics' automated software. They never use jailbroken devices.

On the LTE front, RootMetrics found that AT&T was often faster than Verizon, but Verizon topped the charts of all the carriers in terms of consistency.

The report also found that T-Mobile's HSPA+ 42 network only trailed AT&T's 4G network by a small margin.

From the report:

Consider that while AT&T exceeded Upper Threshold in 18 markets, T-Mobile did so in 13 markets. This threshold was never surpassed by the remaining carriers (Cricket, MetroPCS, and Sprint).

RootMetrics' speed tests serve as an important reminder that when it comes to network strength, a carrier's fastest possible connection doesn't paint a clear picture of overall performance.

Also, Sprint's 4G LTE network had better pack some punch.

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