AT&T was found to be the fastest carrier on a 4G network, but the rise of 5G technology has made T-Mobile the overall winner with the fastest network in the United States, according to PCMag’s 12th annual “Fast Mobile Networks” test published last week.
T-Mobile, the test found, has average speeds of 162.3Mbps, compared to averages of 98.2Mbps and 93.7Mbps for AT&T and Verizon, respectively. Verizon led the way in terms of maximum download speeds, with 2216.7Mbps, compared to T-Mobile at 1134.4Mbps and AT&T at 1090.9Mbps.
“T-Mobile has filled in most of the urban and suburban areas of the Triangle and Charlotte with its new 5G network, while AT&T and Verizon are largely waiting for some new airwaves which become available next year,” said Sascha Segan, lead analyst, mobile for PCMag who wrote the report.
The difference among the results comes down to T-Mobile’s adoption of mid-band 5G. “It’s mid-band spectrum, which T-Mobile calls “ultra-capacity” 5G,” said Segan. The mid-band spectrum, ultra-capacity 5G airwaves, acquired in the acquisition of Sprint “let T-Mobile’s network give consistent results between 150Mbps and 500Mbps of download speed,” Segan said. That’s why T-Mobile received high marks in many of the 30 major metropolitan areas and six rural areas where data was gathered to conduct the analysis, he said.
T-Mobile president Neville Ray shared that the carrier’s 5G infrastructure is accessible to some 165 million people, as of July, when Ray wrote a blog post highlighting that metric, and noting that the company anticipates 200 million people could have access to its 5G networks by the end of the year.
That ultimately pushed the carrier past its two competitors, Verizon and AT&T, in the tests conducted by PCMag this year. Verizon invested in mmWave 5G technology in 2017, said Segan. Meanwhile, T-Mobile made a different choice, which was the acquisition of Sprint and the subsequent upgrading of what Segan called a “massive cache of largely unused mid-band airwaves,” converting those into 5G infrastructure.