Follow us:

Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM

LTE speed test: AT&T fastest, then Verizon

With every wireless carrier saying they’ve got amazing 4G service, it’s hard to decide where you’ll get the most for your $70 per month service plan.

Bellevue-based RootMetrics is helping with its reports measuring speeds and availability of wireless coverage in major markets across the country. Its latest report looks at which of the top four carriers are offering the fastest speeds on both their LTE and existing networks.


AT&T blew past the competition with LTE download speeds averaging 18.6 megabits per secon and peak speeds of 57.7 Mbps, plus upload speeds averaging 9 Mbps.

AT&T is still rolling out its LTE network. In the 47 markets where it was offered in the second half of 2012, Root was able to get  an LTE connection 81.7 percent of the time. It established fast connections 56 percent of the time, mediocre connections 33 percent of the time and slow connections 11 percent of the time.

Verizon continues to have the broadest LTE coverage, providing Root with an LTE connection in 93.2 percent of its tests.

But it was “slightly slower” than AT&T in Root’s testing. It found average download speeds of 14.3 Mbps and peak speeds averaging 49.3 Mbps. Uploads averaged 8.5 Mbps.

It’s a good thing Verizon has such good LTE coverage. Speeds on its older network were the slowest of any carrier, with downloads averaging 0.9 Mbps, according to Root’s tests.

Sprint’s fledgling LTE network provided average download speeds of 10.3 Mbps, peak speeds of 32.7 Mbps and downloads averaging 4.4 Mbps in Root’s testing. But Sprint LTE was only available in five of 77 national markets when Root conducted its tests last year. In those markets with Sprint LTE, the firm was able to get an LTE connection 502. percent of the time and only 23 percent of its tests obtained really fast speeds.

On Sprint’s non-LTE network consumers experience “extremely slow speeds,” with downloads averaging 1.6 Mbps and uploads averaging 0.7 Mbps.

T-Mobile has yet to launch its LTE network – perhaps it’s been too busy merging with MetroPCS and laying off employees at its Bellevue headquarters.

But T-Mobile’s current HSPA+ network still offers “the fastest download speeds, by far, of any non-LTE service,” Root said in today’s report. It’s average download speeds of 7.3 Mbps and close to Sprint’s LTE download speeds. Uploads on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network averaged a relatively pokey 1.5 Mbps.

During its testing of T-Mobile, Root obtained “lighting fast” download speeds 31 percent of the time. Moderate speeds were obtained 44 percent of the time and slow speeds 25 percent of the time.







Comments | Topics: 4G, AT&T, LTE


No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.

The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►