The U.S. carriers’ networks ranked by region

There’s a big wave of change moving through the wireless industry right now. Carriers are adjusting and creating a better value to stay competitive and draw new customers. The networks, though, are ultimately what it comes down to. If coverage isn’t good or LTE speeds are sluggish, no one is going to stick around or even choose that carrier. It explains why carriers heavily emphasize their networks in advertisements.

OpenSignal, an outside firm that monitors the carriers’ networks throughout the nation, recently completed its study of LTE availability and LTE speed.

When it comes to LTE availability, Verizon finished first in all five regions. T-Mobile, however, finished first or at least second in LTE speed in the regions specified by OpenSignal. Though it hasn’t claimed first in availability, T-Mobile can say it’s fast than Verizon in these two regions: the northeast and the southeast.

It’s actually incredible to see these results today as it reveals the huge investment in infrastructure by T-Mobile over the years has paid off very well. Every region in both categories ranks almost the same: Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. While Verizon has long been the leader throughout the United States, we’re seeing AT&T slip behind T-Mobile. Some regions even have T-Mobile ahead of Verizon.

Now we truly understand why Verizon brought back its unlimited plan and got people excited about its service again. As T-Mobile continues to improve its network and nears the same size/quality of Verizon’s, Big Red needs to do other things to keep the brand appealing. Pulling its most loved plan out of retirement was a brilliant and easy move. But it’s a battlefield, and T-Mobile responded by tweaking its One plan to best Verizon’s unlimited plan. So all carriers are going to need new tactics along with improving networks to generate new customers and retain existing customers.

Sprint, as expected, is the carrier with the worst network at this time. CEO Marcelo Claure continues working on building the network up; however, financial constraints from its parent company are really holding Sprint back from doing anything like T-Mobile. That could be why a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile remains a possibility.

The spin based on OpenSignal’s finding will be interesting. T-Mobile, the loudmouth of the wireless industry, already sent out a press release saying “T-Mobile is Destroying Verizon’s Network Edge.” Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer, goes on to say his competitor’s “perceived network advantage is history, and Verizon knows it.” Verizon has yet to respond.

Source: OpenSignal

About the Author: Justin Herrick

Born and raised in New Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied marketing with a focus on digital marketing. He's very talkative and enjoys discussing anything from technology and sports to video games and television. As for Justin's current device rotation, he carries around the Google Pixel and Nexus 9. In the rare case that his phone or tablet is not in his hand, he is either flicking through cards on his Moto 360 (2015) or typing away on the Microsoft Surface Book. Justin is patiently waiting for the day that Google replicates the Galaxy Nexus with modern day specifications.

  • Bardo

    “It’s truly unlimited! * ”

    * Throttled after 22GB, video streams can be lowered to 720p, only 10GB can be used for tethering, must enroll in autopay.

    • Jason

      A few corrections:
      * For the throttling, you basically get a lower priority after 22GB. Unless the tower is really congested, you probably wouldn’t even notice a difference.
      * Video streams are not limited at all.
      * Autopay just gives you a $5 discount (bringing it to the advertised price)

      • Bardo

        So your corrections are:
        * hopefully/probably you won’t notice the throttling
        * pure speculation – the press release only says “HD video streaming” (which could mean video as low as 720p). Other news outlets like businessinsider and the verge reported that they used that language on purpose because that allows them to down-res video if they need to without breaking the terms. If they really intended to let you watch unlimited 4k video for $80 a month, that would be a huge selling point for some people and they would have specified that in the press release. They didn’t.
        * semantics – they’re advertising the plan at $80. You don’t get that price without autopay and paperless billing.


        • Jason

          Speculation? There are people using the new unlimited plan already, and I haven’t seen any reports of videos being capped to 720p. Verizon’s wording, “HD video streaming”, is like that because T-Mobile had been limiting video streams to SD quality. It’s just a clear way for the average person to know that they’re going to get HD-quality video. If you want to stream 4K video with the new unlimited plan, go for it. If you’re on a tower that doesn’t get a lot of bandwidth usage, you might have good luck with that. But a 4G network is not meant for an entire neighborhood to stream 4K video. They have to set some kind of limit so their towers won’t get consistently bogged down. When they say “unlimited”, they mean that they are not going to stop your data or charge you extra once you reach a certain point.

          And yes they’re advertising the price at $80, but they state very clearly that it’s when you enroll in auto-pay. I mean, the alternative is to pay $85. It’s not like it’s a requirement for the service.