OpenSignal released their latest analysis of the U.S. wireless carriers for the period ending on June 29, 2017, and T-Mobile will be popping the champagne bottles as the Un-carrier swept the awards. We should expect John Legere, T-Mobile’s head honcho, to play up the results, but the carrier does need to be careful as OpenSignal’s analysis shows T-Mobile and Verizon are engaged in a pitched battle that can go either way. For Verizon and AT&T customers, the OpenSignal analysis shows the impact the move back into unlimited plans has had on the carrier and it is not a pretty sight.
The biggest news revealed by OpenSignal’s analysis is that Verizon’s and AT&T’s resumption of unlimited plans definitely placed considerable new stress on their networks, slowing down average speed. In the case of Verizon, the average drop off was 12% from 16.9 Mbps down to 14.9 Mbps while AT&T’s dropped from 13.9 Mbps to 12.9 Mbps. Clearly the two networks had built out their infrastructure based on data capped plans and as users switch over to unlimited it is causing congestion from additional use.
Meanwhile, both Sprint and T-Mobile, each of which has been offering unlimited plans for a while and have built their networks accordingly, saw average speeds increase. For T-Mobile, average speed was up to 17.5 Mbps and when combined with Verizon’s drop, the Un-carrier took the outright win.
T-Mobile’s work, especially in metropolitan markets, is also paying off in terms of 4G availability. T-Mobile jumped over Verizon and also became the first carrier since OpenSignal started measurements to surpass the 90% mark when it comes to users successfully connecting to the high speed service. All of the carriers saw improvements in this area and Sprint showed the biggest gains with availability hitting the 81.6% range after being below 70% a year ago and 76.8% just six months ago. In fact, Sprint is quickly catching up and threatening to jump over AT&T. It should be noted that OpenSignal’s method does not measure geographic availability though.
Besides the overall results, OpenSignal also drilled down into data for 32 cities. The differences between T-Mobile and Verizon are very slight in these areas with the two carriers taking the title or sharing the title in all of these locations.
OpenSignal notes that T-Mobile and Sprint both benefit from their smaller size leaving their network infrastructure in better position to absorb new users. AT&T and Verizon are hurting right now with the shift to unlimited plans, but the how long the downward trajectory lasts and how deep it goes remains to be seen.