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AT&T's 5G E network helps it take crown as fastest US carrier

Ookla's Speedtest said the carrier's wireless speeds improved by more than 15% since the start of 2019.

AT&T office New York City, USA: Signage and logo outside its
AT&T's wireless network has become the fastest in the nation, according to Speedtest.
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Maybe it really is evolving?

AT&T's wireless network was named the fastest in the US, it announced Wednesday, based on an analysis of speeds over the first quarter of 2019 by Ookla's Speedtest. It noted that AT&T's speeds improved by more than 15% during that period, while the other carriers plateaued.

AT&T's speeds jumped from 34.3 megabytes per second (MBPS) to 40.7 MBPS, according to the data it presented. By comparison, T-Mobile hit 35.4 MBPS, Sprint reached 34.9 MBPS and Verizon was at 33.3 MBPS.

Keep in mind that different tests have yielded different results. Last month, OpenSignal, another firm that tests wireless speeds, said it found that AT&T's controversial  5G E (short for 5G Evolution) clocked in slower than services from Verizon and T-Mobile. However, AT&T dismissed Opensignal's method as flawed.

Now playing: Watch this: AT&T tries tricking customers with 5G E logo

In its announcement  Wednesday, AT&T highlighted its 5G E service -- which is really just fancy branding for its advanced 4G LTE network -- as a major factor in its speed growth, saying it laid the foundation for the upgrade to 5G next-generation cellular technology.

"We are thrilled Ookla has confirmed that we are the fastest wireless network nationwide," said Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and chief technology officer. "This is further proof that our wireless network strategy and build are benefiting our customers in ways that other carriers cannot match."

Responding to results from Speedtest, Verizon asserted that its wireless network is the fastest and most reliable.

"The evidence is overwhelming that the Verizon wireless network is best, fastest and most reliable," said spokesperson Howie Waterman in an emailed statement. "We focus on deploying the best technologies for our customers, at scale."

T-Mobile made a similar claim, noting that that people use their phones for upload as well as download.

"When you look at the overall customer experience, there's only one fastest LTE network: T-Mobile," said Neville Ray, its chief technology officer. "We've led the industry on LTE speed for five years (20 straight quarters), all without lying to customers or pretending LTE is 5G."

Sprint didn't responded to a request for comment.

Originally published April 3, 6:30 a.m. PT.
Update, April 5:50 a.m. PT: Adds comment from T-Mobile.