Why does this guy have two briefcases full of smartphones in his trunk?
No, this isn't a shady Craigslist deal or some undercover operation with the police.
This is Randy, and he works for RootMetrics, based in Washington state, RootMetrics send scouts all around the country to test the coverage of the four major carriers.
In addition to measuring download and upload data speeds, it tests calling and texting performance.
Its reports are also cited by carriers themselves, usually when the results are favorable of course.
They swung by CNET and took us on a ride along.
You usually do testing on this street to where?
Well our scouters go all over the country, so we have 125
Metro markets that we test twice a year.
When, you know, you talk to friends do they ever ask you, you know, what's the best network?
What network should I get?
All of the time.
We kind of look at it from sort of a nation to neighborhood sort of perspective so we're measuring the country, all 50 states.
But also we're looking at different aspects of mobile networks.
It depends on how you use your phone.
So consistently would you recommend a network like if someone said flat out I'm in San Francisco, what should I get?
Well I'll point them to are latest route score report for San Francisco where Verizon won our overall rank.
Nationwide Verizon scored the best in overall performance in the latest round of testing.
It also led in network reliability, speed, data, and call performance.
But don't feel too bad if you're using the other carriers, AT&T often comes in as a close second in the same categories.
And while T-Mobile doesn't usually win on a national or statewide scale, Root Metrics says it does notable well in dense Populated metro areas.
As for Sprint, it's third in overall performance and it's making significant headway for its LTE coverage.
But given all these numbers and stats, what carriers do the people at Roometrics actually use?
I have Verizon.
I use AT&T.
So how are these tests conducted?
In general, a scout heads to one of the predetermined locations set on a GPS.
The data's then beamed back to the servers in Washington where the numbers are crunched.
We were curious to see what networks had the fastest data speeds in our own building.
I assumed Verizon was going to be the leader, but it only scored the fastest upload speed.
For the fastest download speeds however, T Mobile dominated the competition.
Of course, our office is just one location, and tests were conducted at a single random point in the day.
The best network for our building, city, or even state isn't going to be the same for another.
Knowing what network to choose is difficult.
Especially, Especially when you consider pricing and family plans and data buckets and fraudulating.
But when it comes to performance it's nice to know there's a third party out there that's doing the dirty work.