Mobile gets the fastest 3G and 4G network title

T-Mobile misses a clean sweep of the latest Open Road report by milliseconds

The only award that T-Mobile didn't take in the report was for 4G latency. That basically means Ma Bell's network is the most responsive of the four, although T-Mobile wasn't far behind in that classification either.

In this case, OpenSignal's report includes a sample period between October 1, 2017 and December 30, 2017. T-Mobile had been using the data from previous Open Signal reports, and from crowdsourced data generated from Ookla's Speedtest.net app, to brag about owning the fastest 4G LTE network.

First, the results show that while AT&T and Verizon were severely impacted by launching unlimited data plans a year ago, with both of the biggest carriers in the United States seeing drops in overall download speeds as their 4G LTE networks were stressed by more data consumption. T-Mobile either won outright or tied for our 4G speed award in 24 of the 33 markets in our analysis, while Verizon won or tied for the award in 23 markets. At the end of the summer, T-Mobile's combined 3G/4G download speed was just over 16 Mbps, significantly faster than Verizon's 13.3 Mbps speed.

As was noted last week, the big takeaway in the battle over the best wireless carrier should be that T-Mobile made the most of an opportunity early in the 2017 when AT&T and Verizon networks struggled with re-introductions of unlimited, but kept pushing forward even as those two caught back up. The lone exception was 4G latency, which measures a data signal's responsiveness, where AT&T grabbed the honors. And that's impressive. T-Mobile wins this category too, albeit by just about the smallest percentage possible over a tie to Verizon.

Credit: Roman Tiraspolsky/ShutterstockT-Mobile "is now the operator to beat", OpenSignal says in its latest report on the state of US mobile Networks.

Although anecdotally T-Mobile hasn't been known to have comparable availability to Verizon, for whatever reason it has beaten Big Red in OpenSignal's tests. Perhaps surprisingly, perpetual underdog Sprint has managed to nearly catch up with AT&T, boosting its typical 3G and 4G speeds by 3.1 Mbps over the same period.

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The Uncarrier took the the top spot in five of the six categories OpenSignal measures. Above you'll find a graph of network speeds over the past year - this data is also from OpenSignal.

Speaking of Sprint, although it may still rank last in all of the above metrics, it is by far the most improved carrier throughout 2017. That neck-and-neck race was evident in our 33-city analysis where Verizon had the advantage. AT&T scores 87.07 percent and Sprint scored 85.66 percent.

According to OpenSignal, while considering the deployment of 5G, competition for the mobile networks is heating up and 2018 will be pretty unpredictable.

OpenSignal said in its report, " The stakes couldn't be higher in 2018.

Having fast download speeds is important - especially as we march towards 5G - but it's not the only thing that matters and makes a wireless network great.

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