Verizon dethrones T-Mobile in wireless network ranking

Carriers are prepping for 5G, but speeds are already on the rise, according to wireless tracking firm OpenSignal.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
2 min read

Verizon tops T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint in 4G coverage, according to OpenSignal. 


Verizon has given T-Mobile the boot and now leads all its main rivals in 4G, streaming and uploads, wireless tracking firm OpenSignal said Thursday.

"For the last two years T-Mobile has been the dominant operator...across our metrics, winning most of our speed and availability awards in OpenSignal's last three reports. But we see a newly resurgent Verizon," the tracking company said in its new report. "Verizon has either caught up to or surpassed T-Mobile in nearly every one of our primary metrics." 

Verizon  won outright in 4G coverage, video streaming quality and upload speeds.  T-Mobile and Verizon tied in download speeds. And  AT&T  won in the fifth category: latency, which measures network response time.

Verizon can't rest on its laurels, though. "In every metric Verizon won, T-Mobile is a very close second in our analysis," OpenSignal said.

The report, which covers Sept. 16 to Dec. 14, comes as the carriers race to deploy 5G networks nationwide. Investment in 4G infrastructure as preparation for 5G networks is already increasing mobile speeds across the country, the report said.

5G is no longer a fairytale. In December, Qualcomm showcased a prototype phone that could tap into 5G networks. In the same month, Verizon and Samsung said they'll launch a 5G smartphone in the first half of 2019. Earlier this month, Verizon said Motorola's Moto Z3 will be its first 5G smartphone once the company launches its 5G network.

OpenSignal's report, which tracks the top-four carriers, is based on over 10 billion measurements from more than 1 million unique devices across Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint .

Verizon and AT&T didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. 

T-Mobile reiterated OpenSignal's statement that competition is tight.

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again – there is no longer a trade-off between network performance and value in the wireless industry and the days of Verizon's unchallenged network leadership are long gone," Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile, said in an email statement. "As the report says, 'the battle between Verizon and T-Mobile is far from over.'"

Sprint said it's continuing to work hard for its customers.  

"Nobody can deny that Sprint has made dramatic network improvements in the last few years, and our large Next-Gen Network investment is well under way to improve coverage, reliability and speed across the country," a Sprint spokeswoman said in an email statement. "We're rolling out hundreds of thousands of small cells, upgrading existing cell sites, and deploying the most innovative LTE Advanced technologies nationwide."

First published Jan. 24 at 9:57 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:39 a.m. PT: Adds T-Mobile's response. 

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