Verizon, T-Mobile offer best LTE speeds | Cult of Mac

Verizon, T-Mobile offer best 4G LTE speeds, but AT&T, Sprint not so much


Best 4G
Wireless data performance is very important for your iPhone. Getting the best LTE speed is as important as having the fastest processor.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Verizon offers the fastest 4G LTE performance across the U.S., with Big Red coming in first in five of the six regions in a new nationwide study of wireless data speeds. 

T-Mobile is not too far behind. It actually boasts the best LTE speed in the Southeast region, and sits in second place in all the rest.

AT&T consistently stayed in third place, not very far behind T-Mobile. Sprint was almost always a distant fourth.

Peak data speeds are near or above 300Mbps, while average download speeds are between 40Mbps and 50Mbps. Reliability for all the Big Four carriers was quite good.

These results somewhat mirror a similar study done earlier this year by OpenSignal. In that one, T-Mobile or Verizon also took top honors in every region. 

Quest for the best LTE speeds

This is the eighth annual study of LTE performance by PC Magazine. It’s done using a mobile app from Ookla running on twelve handsets as they are driven in three cars on the East Coast, West Coast, and the center of the country. Checks are made every 90 seconds.

PC Magazine Fastest Mobile Networks results
Verizon is expensive, but sometimes you get what you pay for.
Photo: PC Magazine

Scores are a weighted average of six factors. Average download speed, downloads over 5Mbps, reliability, and ping time count for 20 percent each. Average upload speed and uploads over 2Mbps count for 10 percent each.  

Most similar studies — including the OpenSignal one referenced above — use crowdsourced data. In this latest one, employees of PC Magazine performed all the tests. The fact that both methodologies showed that Verizon and T-Mobile are the fastest doesn’t leave much room for doubt.