In the game of phones, Verizon dominates

For the seventh consecutive time, Verizon's network rises above T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T, according to test firm RootMetrics.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
Enlarge Image

Verizon beat out AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile during the second half of 2016.


As the battle for network supremacy rages on, Verizon Wireless has a firm grip on the throne.

Verizon dominated across the board in RootMetrics' nationwide test of wireless performance during the second half of 2016. This marks the seventh straight time Verizon has topped RootMetrics' semiannual study.

The New York-based network giant earned the highest overall score and took the top spot in reliability, speed, data, calling and texting. AT&T came in second in each category, except for call performance. Sprint took that spot.

Verizon may be RootMetrics' top dog, but T-Mobile argues network results should come from crowdsourced data like OpenSignal and Speedtest.net. Last August, OpenSignal awarded T-Mobile with the title of fastest network in the US, and in its latest results, it called a tie between T-Mobile and Verizon.

RootMetrics said it conducted 3.7 million tests across 249,935 miles and 4,283 indoor locations to get its results. OpenSignal and Speedtest get different results because they use data from 4.5 billion samples taken by everyday people in real-world situations.

On the state level, Verizon had the highest overall score in 39 states and tied with AT&T in nine states, according to RootMetrics. AT&T won in two states, while Sprint and T-Mobile didn't win in any states.

In city regions, T-Mobile made a comeback with stronger performance for speed and reliability. But it was still unable to best Verizon, which blew out the competition by winning in 93 percent of cities.

"These test results are absolutely overwhelming," Nicola Palmer, Verizon's chief wireless network officer, said in an emailed statement. "We are extending our lead in network performance in the top 125 metro areas and in state and national network performance results."

Though Verizon came out on top again, its competitors are catching up. This time around, both Sprint and AT&T won in more categories than they had in tests from the first half of 2016. Sprint's performance was the most improved since the first part of 2016, while T-Mobile was the only carrier to have gotten worse, according to RootMetrics.

"We're excited to have achieved our best-ever performance in cities across the country," Sprint CTO John Saw said in a blog post. AT&T didn't respond to requests for comment.

T-Mobile remained skeptical of RootMetrics' reports, pointing to crowdsourced testing where it came out on top instead.

"Crowdsourced testing measures real usage, not a test script," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in a letter blasting the pro-Verizon findings. "You're getting info on how people actually use their devices, not a consultant's interpretation of actual usage."

You can check out RootMetrics' findings for yourself: across the US, by state and in metro areas.

Batteries Not Included: The CNET team reminds us why tech is cool.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.