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
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
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
What if the Comcast Merger Fails?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/20/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Adtran Is Developing White Box GPON Tech
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/24/2015
Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/22/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Learning Curve Click Here
Pierre could never remember how to use Excel.
Latest Comment