April 7, 2014
Last month, a global LTE report by OpenSignal pointed out that the U.S. has some of the worst LTE speeds in the developed world, with an average download speed of only 6.5Mbps.
But LTE in the United States is improving at a rapid pace, as a surge in U.S. data consumption and offloading pushes carriers to keep up with demand. In fact, carrier data revenue exceeded voice revenue for the first time in the U.S. just a few weeks ago.
Now, a report by OpenSignal* highlights the differences between the U.S.’s four biggest carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) in terms of speed and coverage of their LTE networks. Here’s a quick run-down:
T-Mobile reigns when it comes to network velocity, with average download speeds of 11.5 Mbps. It makes sense, since T-Mobile took a lot of risks in 2013 to get back in the game.
Meanwhile, Sprint brings up the rear with networks at barely half the speed of the next-slowest carrier, Verizon – 4.3 Mps versus 7.8 Mbps, respectively.
To put this in perspective, compare these numbers to the performance of LTE networks around the world. Australia’s LTE networks, the fastest in the world, boast speeds of 24.5 Mbps on average.
This highlights the fact that of the 16 countries surveyed, the U.S. ranks only 15th, besting only the Phillippines with regard to LTE download speed.
By measuring the amount of time that users have access to LTE, OpenSignal’s report shows that Verizon’s network allows users access to LTE 83.2 percent of the time, as opposed to 56.5 percent with Sprint.
In their words, this metric shows “how real-world users are being served by their connection.”*
On the bright side, however, the U.S. ranks 6th of 16 in this category worldwide, which is a vast improvement from placing 15th of 16 in the network speed race.
Sprint sits at the bottom of these findings — however, the carrier may yet be able to turn things around, as Sprint works to expand its LTE network and improve performance.
Though the U.S. still has a long way to go with LTE – especially in terms of network speeds, for instance – it’s important to note that LTE performance is not synonymous with overall performance. For users, regardless of LTE availability, 3G networks are still widely-utilized.
It remains to be seen exactly where LTE development will progress from here.
* The State of US LTE (March 2014), OpenSignal. OpenSignal, Inc.