Light Reading

The Best 3G & 4G Cities in America

Dan Jones
LR Mobile Report
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
10/30/2012
50%
50%

If you're curious about the best and worst cities for cellular connectivity in the U.S., then you've come to the right place.

The lowdown
Seattle-based RootMetrics has provided us with data covering 3G and 4G networks from the top five carriers in the U.S. The data comes from the top 75 urbanized areas in the country, based on results from a downloadable speed test app. For a quick taste of what's to come, here are the fastest cities in the U.S., according to RootMetrics, which averaged the download speeds in a given place for each of the top nationwide carriers and determined an overall ranking for each city:

Table 1: Five Fastest Cities (All Carriers)

Rank City Average Download Speed (Mbit/s)
1 Indianapolis 10.3
2 Orlando, Fla. 9.3
3 Akron, Ohio 9.2
4 San Jose, Calif. 9.1
5 Kansas City, Mo. 8.9
Source: RootMetrics


Table 2: Five Fastest Cities (Top 4 Carriers)
Rank City Average Download Speed (Mbit/s)
1 Orlando, Fla. 11.0
2 Kansas City, Mo. 10.9
3 San Jose, Calif. 10.9
4 San Antonio 10.7
5 Indianapolis 10.3
Source: RootMetrics


Not all 4G is created equal
It should be noted that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Verizon Wireless all run some form of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the U.S.

T-Mobile US Inc. , meanwhile, uses a fast form of 3G technology called High-Speed Packet Access-Plus (HSPA+), which it markets as 4G. AT&T also sells HSPA+ as 4G alongside its younger -- but growing -- LTE network.

T-Mobile is expecting to introduce LTE in key metropolitan areas in 2013.

Not all 4G is created equal. AT&T and Verizon have wider radio channels to deploy LTE technology than the smaller operators do, so those networks tend to be the fastest.

As you'll see, AT&T or T-Mobile's HSPA+ networks can give the 4G networks a run for their money, particularly in the cases of Leap and MetroPCS, because those carriers have much less spectrum -- meaning smaller channels overall -- to deploy 4G LTE in.

Verizon also has a significantly larger 4G LTE footprint than any of its rivals. As of late October 2012, Verizon has 419 LTE markets live, AT&T has 77, Sprint has 32 and MetroPCS has 13 cities and parts of Florida, while Leap just has two cities up.

The methodology
RootMetrics went about the tests like this:

  • RootMetrics visited a number of markets twice in 2012. For the five fastest and five slowest markets for each carrier, they did not average both visits, but rather considered each distinctly. Dates are provided to indicate when in the year a fast or slow test speed was recorded.

  • To determine the overall fastest and slowest cities, the company took each carrier's average speed in a given market and averaged all of them. This measurement does not necessarily say anything about an individual carrier. Carrier A could still be very fast in a "slow" market because all other carriers are slow.

  • The testers have provided two types of maps: One that includes all six carriers tested, and one that includes only results for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The latter is offered to screen out exceptionally slow speeds from Leap or MetroPCS.

  • Remember that this data incorporates both 3G and 4G carrier networks that offer a wide variety of speeds.

Ready? Here are the results (free registration required):

Dig in to the data and let us know what you think on the boards below.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from LR Mobile Report
Light Reading Mobile compiles a list of public access small-cell products to track this developing wireless infrastructure market
A preview of the news, the trends and the potential traffic nightmare that awaits you in Barcelona
Light Reading Mobile lists all the places where you can subscribe to an LTE service and how much it costs
Light Reading Mobile lists all the places where you can get your hands on a dongle and subscribe to an LTE service
From The Founder
Against the odds, Huawei is growing its telecoms networking equipment business in the US -- that should be ringing some alarm bells for domestic vendors.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Jeff Miller, ActiveVideo

8|28|15   |   19:05   |   (0) comments


Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Vodafone: Mobile Money Is About Customer Trust

8|27|15   |   06.36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading spoke with Vodafone's Ian Ravenscroft about the unique responsibilities and opportunities facing operators handling customers' financial transactions over the network.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Palo Alto Networks on Expanding in the Carrier/Service Provider Market

8|26|15   |   07:54   |   (0) comments


Alfred Lee from Palo Alto Networks tells Steve Saunders about their new chassis-based system, the PA-7080, and how it can benefit service providers compared to legacy firewalls.
LRTV Custom TV
Global Services Forum Preview

8|25|15   |   02:36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders talks about Huawei's upcoming Global Services Forum with the help of Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan and Teresa Mastrangelo.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Infoblox on DNS Threat Index

8|19|15   |   04:39   |   (0) comments


Dilip Pillaipakam from Infoblox talks to Steve Saunders about his company's core network services.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Ihab Tarazi, Equinix

8|14|15   |   20:18   |   (1) comment


Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the dramatic changes in the data center, cloud and interconnect markets and discusses the impact of SDN and NFV in the coming years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
The Netformx Ecosystem

8|14|15   |   09:39   |   (1) comment


Ittai Bareket, CEO of Netformx, talks with Steve Saunders about the Netformx Ecosystem, which employs cutting-edge prescriptive analytics to help solution providers maximize profits.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks on Leveraging VNFs

8|12|15   |   07:37   |   (0) comments


Kumar Mehta, founder and CEO of stealth mode startup Versa Networks, talks with Steve Saunders about how providers can best leverage virtualized network functions (VNFs).
LRTV Custom TV
Transforming the Network Through OPNFV

8|5|15   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Sandra Rivera, VP Data Center Group; GM Network Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, on OPNFV Arno and how the industry is coming together to accelerate the deployment of NFV and transform the network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei ONS Product Demo

8|3|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Huawei shows at Open Networking Summit 2015 in Santa Clara how its SDN and NFV solutions embrace openness.
LRTV Custom TV
End-User or Enterprise Benefits to the New IP

7|30|15   |   04:27   |   (1) comment


Andrew Coward discusses what the New IP means to end users or enterprise customers. He explains compelling reasons, including how every customer can get their own network, from the transformation to the New IP.
LRTV Custom TV
Network Visibility & the New IP

7|30|15   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


Mukund Srigopal provides an explanation of what network visibility is and how it is essential as service providers transition to the New IP. In addition, the importance of the network packet broker is discussed.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Cisco's cloud and virtualization portfolio can increase business agility and innovation by building a more flexible network architecture.
Hot Topics
Verizon Hums a Driving Tune
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/26/2015
Gogo Approved to Speed Up In-Flight WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/24/2015
Could Market Volatility Hurt Tech IPOs?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/24/2015
Sprint's Claure: '3 to 5 Years' to Turnaround
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about data center, cloud and the impact of virtualization in the coming years.
Cats with Phones
Cats Are a Smartphone's Best Friend Click Here
Whoever said cats didn't live to please their humans?