OpenSignal: T-Mobile's LTE Is Fastest

T-Mobile has stolen the crown for the fastest LTE network in the US, according to new research from OpenSignal.

The latest "State of US LTE" findings from OpenSignal, which tracks cellular signal strength data from more than 100,000 users via installed Android or iPhone apps, found that T-Mobile US Inc. is "comfortably the fastest network in the US over the last three months, with average speeds of 11.5 Mbps."

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), on the other hand, fared the worst, with average speeds around 4.3 Mbit/s, making it not only the slowest operator in the US, but also one of the slowest networks worldwide.

When it comes to how long the average customer stays on LTE -- an alternative way to measure coverage because infrequent LTE use would suggest users are handed off back to 3G -- Verizon Wireless was the winner. Its average user had access to LTE 82.3% of the time for the past three months. Sprint was again the worst at 56.5%, but T-Mobile only fared slightly better, suggesting its coverage map discrepancy with Verizon is still a real issue. (See T-Mobile Repurposes 2G to Get an LTE Edge.)

The results aren't that surprising as Verizon had an early start on LTE, Sprint is still experiencing growing pains through Network Vision, and T-Mobile's LTE network might be relatively unloaded compared to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon, which have had 4G customers longer. (See Sprint Feels the Churn Burn Before Spark, T-Mobile Plays LTE Catch Up, and Verizon Completes LTE Rollout, Turns to VoLTE.)

But T-Mobile is also working hard at accelerating its LTE network, in terms of deployment timeline and speeds. The carrier spent most of last year upgrading its major markets to the zippier 2x10 MHz LTE channels. As of the end of last year, it had completed 100 markets, including 90% of the top 25 metro areas. It's now working on 20x20 MHz LTE channels, but on a more limited deployment basis. (See T-Mobile Eyes Fatter Pipes for 4G LTE .)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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