December 19, 2014
There’s no doubt that the wireless environment has seen huge changes in 2014.
Throughout the year, carriers have worked to improve their offerings, including better WiFi performance (see AT&T and Verizon Will Offer WiFi Calling in 2015 and T-Mobile Offers Free WiFi Equipment to Improve Network Performance) and expanded LTE coverage (see U.S. Wireless Coverage in Q3 2014).
Despite recent legal troubles encompassing the biggest U.S. carriers (see Defining Unlimited: US Government Cracks Down on Deceptive Carrier Practices), these improvements – and others on the horizon, below – paint a bright future for network performance in 2015.
Some glimpses of this promising future can be seen through network performance reports by RootMetrics,* in addition to other highlights from 2014 overall…
According to Rootscore Reports by RootMetrics, AT&T more than tripled its median download speed, accelerating from 5.0 Mbps to 18.4 Mbps between performance testing in May and October of 2014. In this way, AT&T went from third to first place in speed and overall rankings, sharing the top spot with Verizon.
Earlier this year, AT&T launched its first VoLTE network in areas of the Midwest (see U.S. Carriers Race to Launch VoLTE). The carrier, along with Verizon, has also announced plans to offer WiFi calling in 2015 (see AT&T and Verizon Will Offer WiFi Calling in 2015).
Below is a map of AT&T’s network performance at the end of 2014:
After recently launching LTE in this area, Sprint showed significant performance improvements, with median download speed improving from 0.8 Mbps to 8.7 Mbps and upload speed increasing from 0.9 Mbps to 3.1 Mbps.
Sprint made huge strides nationwide this year in terms of improving its LTE coverage (see Sprint Collaborates with Rural Carriers to Expand LTE), as well as becoming involved in a competitive pricing war with rival T-Mobile (see A Price War Rages between Sprint and T-Mobile).
Below is a map of Sprint’s network performance at the end of 2014:
Between March to November of this year, the UnCarrier was able to nearly triple its median download speed from 7.4 Mbps to 24.5 Mbps after deploying Wideband LTE in the area over the summer.
T-Mobile has had another busy and eventful year with its UnCarrier strategy (see T-Mobile Gains Customers, Advances on Competition) and trying to get ahead in terms of network performance (see T-Mobile Offers Free WiFi Equipment to Improve Network Performance). The UnCarrier also gained recognition last month for being able to support users with an average usage of 2.7GB per month, compared to AT&T users with an average of 1.5GB and Verizon users at 2GB (see T-Mobile Has the Highest LTE Data Usage).
Below is a map of T-Mobile’s network performance at the end of 2014:
This area saw the recent deployment of Verizon’s Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS), which nearly doubled Verizon’s median download speed from 17.0 Mbps in the first half of 2014 to 33.4 Mbps last month. According to RootMetrics, this is Verizon’s fastest median download speed recorded so far in 2014.
In response to the growing demand of LTE this year, Verizon reportedly spent about $2.8 billion on wireless capital expenses in Q2 to improve its 4G LTE network capacity (see Verizon Aims to Expand 4G LTE with Q2 Spend). The carrier, along with AT&T, has also announced plans to offer WiFi calling in 2015 (see AT&T and Verizon Will Offer WiFi Calling in 2015).
Below is a map of Verizon’s network performance at the end of 2014:
RootMetrics experts predict even more network enhancements to keep ahead of ever-increasing demand for better performance. Check out their website to learn more about the current state of carriers’ wireless networks across the country.
* Sokolowsky, Jennifer. Carriers make the ‘nice’ list with performance improvements, RootMetrics Blog, RootMetrics.