Sprint dramatically improved its network performance last year and in many areas is now better than T-Mobile US, according to a new report from Root Metrics.
But the turnaround isn’t silencing T-Mobile’s cheeky chief executive, John Legere, who regularly mocks his larger rival. Legere took to Twitter today to point out weaknesses in Sprint’s showing and question Root’s methodology.
Sprint’s response was a blog post by John Saw, its chief network officer, talking about the work it’s been doing to upgrade its network.
“While we still have a lot of work to do, particularly in the area of data performance and speed, we’re clearly headed in the right direction,” Saw wrote.
All three players in the drama are linked to Bellevue. Root Metrics and T-Mobile are headquartered there, as was Clearwire — Saw’s former employer — before it was acquired by Sprint. In addition to Saw, the acquisition gave Sprint spectrum it’s using to get its 4G network up to par.
Verizon Wireless still scored highest in Root’s testing of network reliability, speeds and call handling during the second half of 2014.
AT&T placed second, slightly behind Verizon, though its call- and text-handling performance slipped during the testing period.
The biggest change was seen in the performance of Sprint’s network, which made “tremendous strides” after making huge investments in its 4G network, according to Root.
“The caveat of course is that Sprint’s first half results were markedly poor,” the report said.
The number of markets where downloads struggled on Sprint’s network dropped by half — from 108 to 52 — and the number of markets with significant call handling issues fell from 31 to 2.
T-Mobile’s network continued to improve in the second half of 2014, but it fared best in metro areas, and the number of markets where it had significant call-handling issues increased from 10 to 16.
At the same time, T-Mobile’s network upgrades helped it post fast speeds in some markets. Its speed ratings are just ahead of Verizon but not as consistent across the country, with Verizon providing 10 to 20 megabit-per-second speeds in more markets and T-Mobile providing speeds in the zero to 6 Mbps range in more markets.