Despite significant improvements in the LTE networks of T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T, Verizon once again took the top spot in a biannual independent test of mobile network performance.
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The RootMetrics report, released this week, found that Verizon was the "undisputed leader" in terms of network reliability and coverage. Overall, Verizon's network performed better than its competitors in both urban and rural areas, RootMetrics said.
The company measures network performance in six areas: overall performance, network reliability, network speed, data performance, call performance, and text performance. Verizon took top honors in all the categories, while AT&T placed second in five of them, losing out to Sprint in the text performance category.
Data performance and network speed, of course, are top of mind for carriers and smartphone-wielding consumers. In those categories, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T all finished within six percentage points of one another, and Sprint came in a more distant fourth.
RootMetrics performed more than 3.6 million tests across 250,000 miles and 4,283 indoor locations, according to the report. The company says its tests reach 100 percent of the US population.
"These test results are absolutely overwhelming," Nicola Palmer, Verizon's chief wireless network officer, said in a statement. "Only Verizon's network offers superior performance, unrivaled reliability and the best speeds for customers making it the best option for unlimited data plans."
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Verizon's performance on the RootMetrics report matches PCMag's own results in our Fastest Mobile Networks test, which follows a similar methodology of evaluating networks in both urban and rural areas. T-Mobile finished second in the most recent Fastest Mobile Networks test, conducted in spring 2016.
For its part, T-Mobile questioned the usefulness of studies like those conducted by RootMetrics, claiming that they aren't indicative of real-world performance.
"In a 2G world, these studies were everything," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote in a blog post. "You needed paid consultants to drive around and measure network performance. Today, everyone is walking around with a frickin' supercomputer in their pocket, and those smartphones can now tell us almost everything about network performance – with more granularity, better personalization and billions more data samples."
For more, check out PCMag's own test of the Fastest Mobile Networks 2016.