Mobile Comes Out On Top in Latest OpenSignal Report

Testing Firm: T-Mobile Is the 'Operator to Beat'

T-Mobile hailed the results as evidence that its network was on par with market leader Verizon and said any differences in rural coverage would be addressed as it begins to roll out spectrum in the 600 MHz band. The latest is called the "State of Mobile Networks" and it aims to show how each of the four biggest names compare to one another.

For the report, which covered the fourth quarter of 2017 (October 1 to December 30), OpenSignal collected data from more than 200,000 mobile devices across 33 major cities.

Specifically, T-Mo averaged 19.42 Mbps velocity in 4G downloads and 3.46 Mbps where only a 3G connection was available, compared to 17.77 and 0.87 Mbps for Verizon. In the 4th quarter, we measured AT&T's average LTE download at 13.3 Mbps, almost a megabit short of its February high of 14.2 Mbps.

It was only a year ago that T-Mobile and Verizon shared the download speed trophy, with the country's largest cellular company also ranked first in 4G availability, and now somehow, the number three in subscribers manages to easily win both gold medals. The lone exception was 4G latency, which measures a data signal's responsiveness, where AT&T grabbed the honors. Verizon won our 4G availability award outright in 11 markets, but it drew with T-Mobile for the award in the remaining 22 markets.

Testing Firm: T-Mobile Is the 'Operator to Beat'

Hot on the heels of the revelation that USA carriers are finally getting to grips with the demands of offering unlimited data packages, OpenSignal also has a fresh report looking deeper into the state of the country's mobile networks.

The biggest surprise this year is with T-Mobile. Sprint was by far the most improved operator in LTE reach in 2017. Sprint's tremendous improvements over the last year-especially when it comes to 4G speed and availability-aren't to be ignored, though. And that should mean that the latest Open Signal figures have no bias toward T-Mobile. Last year, Verizon and AT&T added unlimited plans back to their arsenals, but from the looks of the new report, the two corporations are having trouble competing with T-Mobile in a different way. Sprint, though still in 4th overall, is also making great strides in both speed and availability. AT&T had the lowest latency in our nationwide tests with a reaction time of 58.3 Mbps.

Credit: OpenSignalT-Mobile claimed first in the category that most wireless users pay attention to - the speed of its 4G network. In 2018, we'll find out if Verizon's unlimited struggles amount to just a minor pit stop in the 4G race or whether Verizon has been lapped by T-Mobile.

Another interesting battle can be found in the regional performance chart that OpenSignal included in this report. The foundations of those 5G services will be built on the 4G infrastructure we use today. The more power the operators build into their LTE systems, the better prepared they'll be to offer the next generation of mobile services.