While the country is readying itself for 5G, 4G is improving, according to research firm OpenSignal’s seventh in-depth look at the U.S. mobile industry. LTE access is at an all-time high and 3G connections continue to recede into the background.
The surge in 4G speeds analysts began tracking last summer, has maintained its upward trajectory.
The foundations that operators have been laying for 5G launches — such as improved backhaul or site densification — have also begun benefiting existing 4G services by reducing bottlenecks.
T-Mobile has been the dominant operator for mobile network experience across the analyst’s metrics, winning most of the speed and availability awards in OpenSignal’s last three reports. But analysts now say Verizon, “has either caught up to or surpassed T-Mobile in nearly every one of our primary metrics.”
Verizon reclaimed OpenSignal’s 4G Availability award with a score of 94.2 percent. T-Mobile, however, was only two-tenths of a percentage point behind. Both operators now have 4G Availability scores of 94 percent or higher, an indication of “superb” LTE reach, according to the findings. AT&T and Sprint were both a little more than a percentage point shy of crossing the 90 percent 4G Availability threshold, and both are on track to hit that milestone in the coming year.
Nationally, T-Mobile customers who used the test had an average download speed of 21.1 megabits per second on 4G connections, followed by Verizon at 20.9 Mbps. AT&T was third at 17.8 Mbps and Sprint trailed at 13.9 Mbps.
AT&T is still the operator to beat in OpenSignal’s Latency Experience metric with average response times below 60 milliseconds across its 3G and 4G networks.
January 29, 2019