T-Mobile took no such hit since they'd had "unlimited data" for a while before Verizon and AT&T jumped back onboard. Considering Verizon and T-Mobile were deadlocked in 4G speed just 12 months ago, T-Mobile's recent dominance in this metric is telling. The two biggest operators in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T, reintroduced unlimited data options in February, giving into the competitive pressure of T-Mobile and Sprint's highly successful unlimited offerings.
Luckily for John Legere's industry-disrupting operation, that's where T-Mo truly excels, handily beating Big Red, at least according to OpenSignal's latest "State of Mobile Networks: USA" report. In Q4 2017, T-Mobile averaged LTE downloads of 19.4 Mbps, while Verizon only saw 17.8 Mbps. Our testers on T-Mobile were able to connect to an LTE network 93.1% of the time, while our Verizon users found a similar connection 92.7%.
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The report also noted that last-place Sprint made significant gains in both LTE speed and availability in the latest analysis. Above you'll find a graph of network speeds over the past year - this data is also from OpenSignal. All tests were done where coverage was available for each carrier. The carrier topped OpenSignal's charts in four of five categories: 3G, 4G, overall speed, 4G availability, and 3G latency.
AT&T placed third in our 4G availability rankings, but for the first time it faced a strong challenge from perennially last-placed Sprint. As in our last report, the two leading operators were extremely close in this metric, though T-Mobile barely edged out Verizon for our 4G availability award in the 4th quarter. Sprint was last in the United States mobile carrier speed race at just an average speed of 12.02Mbps. That neck-and-neck race was evident in our 33-city analysis where Verizon had the advantage. With both 3G and 4G LTE in play, T-Mobile's network clocked in at 18.31 Mbps, Verizon at 16.49 Mbps, AT&T at 11.86 Mbps, and Sprint at 10.24 Mbps. All other categories were dominated by T-Mobile. AT&T scores 87.07 percent and Sprint scored 85.66 percent. AT&T is the only of the four major carriers, other than T-Mobile, to win an award in this year's report.
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Perhaps most surprising of all is Sprint's recovery across all categories. Its availability score rose almost 9 percentage points over the last twelve months, compared to 6 percentage points for T-Mobile and 5 percentage points for both Verizon and AT&T.
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As comprehensive as OpenSignal's report results are, download speeds will always vary by region and device (different phones have different modems capable of different peak download speeds). This is a particularly important metric, as 4G networks aren't always available, especially if traveling away from major built up areas. If T-Mobile's service is so good, why don't they have more customers than their competitors?