AT&T Chicago store (interior 001)

Aren’t you sick and tired of top U.S. carriers advertising their 4G LTE service as the nation’s fastest and most reliable? This mostly false advertising has been ticking me off for quite some time, especially how T-Mobile promotes its 3G HSPA+ network as 4G. Time for a reality check.

Research firm Rootmetrics yesterday published the results of its survey of U.S. carriers and their fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks. Surprisingly or not, AT&T’s LTE came on top as the fastest, but rival Verizon grabbed the title of the nation’s best LTE coverage. More tidbits right after the break..

Per Rootmetrics data, AT&T registered average LTE download speeds of 18.6Mbps, with uploads hitting the 9Mbps mark. As for the maximum speeds, AT&T’s LTE registered a speedy 57.7Mbps in downlink and an impressive 19.6Mbps in uplink.

Furthermore, AT&T’s LTE network had a connection rate of an impressive 81.7 percent. Verizon slightly trails AT&T, with average LTE speeds clocking in at 14.3Mbps downlink and 8.5Mbps uplink.

Maximum Verizon LTE speeds: 49.3Mbps downlink and 19.7Mbps uplink.

Rootmetrics LTE speeds (ATT)

Sprint’s LTE download speed is rated at 10.3Mbps, with 4.4Mbps in upload.

Rootmetrics LTE speeds (Sprint)

Rootmetrics explains:

AT&T offers the fastest pure LTE speeds, outpacing Verizon for both download and upload. And their non-LTE speeds were faster than those of any carrier except T-Mobile. AT&T continues to trail Verizon, though, when comparing LTE footprints.

Verizon’s biggest advantage is the comprehensiveness of its LTE network, scoring the most LTE coverage of any network Rootmetrics has tested. The firm said it successfully connected to Verizon’s LTE network nine out of ten times.

Rootmetrics LTE speeds (Verizon)

“This advantage holds whether we look at total number of markets covered in our tests, or when we compare the likelihood of accessing LTE within markets,” researchers note.

Verizon’s 3G CDMA technology is slower than rival’s non-LTE solutions, but the carrier makes up for that with LTE availability. AT&T claims 135 LTE markets, Verizon 475 and 58 LTE markets claimed by Sprint.

Rootmetrics said Verizon’s LTE service was available in all 77 markets it tested, with AT&T’s LTE network available in 47 out of the 77 tested markets. Sprint’s LTE service was available in five of the 77 markets Rootmetrics tested.

T-Mobile has not yet begun deploying its LTE service, though that MetroPCS purchase should accelerate the carrier’s LTE deployment. T-Mobile’s 3G HSPA+42 network reached 7.3Mbps in download and 1.5Mbps in average upload speeds in the Rootmetrics survey.

The Deutsche Telekom-owned wireless carrier will land the iPhone soon and has previously promised to start rolling out LTE in 2014. T-Mobile stands poised to offer “impressive download speeds” with the combination of its existing HSPA+42 network and the upcoming 4G LTE technology.

Rootmetrics notes that even though Sprint’s LTE speeds lag behind those of AT&T and Verizon, they are “faster than what Sprint publicly claimed they would be.”

Consumer Reports, the influential U.S. magazine, in its barrage of recent tests concluded that AT&T has the best 4G LTE service, but also the worst voice and data service quality.

  • GalaxyNoteFTW96

    This is bullshit. I have Verizon, live in San Francisco, and consistently get speeds over 20 MB per second. My friend has iPhone 5 on ATT LTE and never gets past 18 MB.

    • JerseyD

      See where it says ‘Average’. They tested Verizon in 77 markets and At&t in 47 for LTE. But I’m sure you and your friends test is more accurate. /sarcasm

      • Well a proper average would account for all 77 whether or not they were succeeded connections, the average should be of TOTAL markets tested – thats the laws of math class and only my opinion, but it would make the connection averages much slower obvi..

    • macboy74

      It all depends on where you live. I’m getting up to 52 Mbps down on AT&T LTE in upstate NY. Verizon is maybe half that up here.

    • This is just an average in all the testings.

      I am from NYC, my office is between Broadway & 7th ave on 36th st, Verizon can’t even give a good coverage for 4G LTE there(1 block…), it doesn’t mean Verizon is suck… and at&t is the best….

      All I care is the carrier I am using can do a good job in my home and office, then that is the best carrier TO ME.

    • Eric Hope

      I’m in downtown San Francisco right now (Market St, at 2nd), on ATT LTE (5 bars), and JUST did a SpeedTest this very moment. Results: 36922 down, 22090 up.

  • At home I have 23 mb/s 3G, faster than US LTE. lol

    • Mohammed Sahib

      Are you talking about your home wifi?

      • He doesn’t even know the right unit, leave him alone.

      • No, I am talking about 3G connection via microsim. It’s very cheap here!

  • macboy74

    I agree completely. I get between 23-52 Mbps down on my AT&T iPhone 5. While my gf only gets between 12-19 Mbps down on her Verizon iPhone 5.

    • 4G LTE – again at&t is doing a good job on the data, even back to 3G, Verizon is a joke in NYC.

      But as for voice… at&t… forget it, you can’t rely on them…

      I am a IT support, so data is very important to me, and I need to talk on phone and check email or remote on that computer at the same time, Verizon? No, you can do 1 at a time only.

      • Drake Stevens

        No, you can do both on Verizon’s 4g.

      • Tony

        for an IT support guy you don’t sound like you know what you are talking about at all, Verizon 4g allows you to talk and use the web at the same time.

      • Jack Wong

        LOL I know right, I should apply a job in Verizon sales room.

  • i live in the city where coverage is perfect so i am happy with the super fast ATnT speed

  • I agree with article. I have AT&T and Verizon. The speed on AT&T is about 45mbps download and 18.9mbps upload. I tested it in 3 different cities and AT&T always comes out with the best speed.

  • In the middle of nowhere Utah, I get no more than 11 MBPS, mostly 1-2 on average, which is at least usefull compred to if I disable LTE and roam 3G, I can’t even access a webpage.

    • mwpitt52

      You need to move to civilization.

  • Abe Villa

    Sprint speeds are off. I on a bad day here get around 25 Mbps down and 10mbps up and that’s thru out Chicago bc I travel all over in a daily basis.

  • Im in south Florida, I get 40-47MPBS with AT&T. I get around 10 on 3G

  • Don’t know where they got that info root metric does not have option for LTE or lower

  • john

    I get 60 down and 20 up on my AT&T iPhone 5 in Dallas

  • FrankensteinBlack

    Good Grief! Look at the NON-LTE Speeds. Yikes! Just more evidence that CDMA/EVDO is old garbage! (As I happily hand-off from AT&T LTE to speedy HSPA/ and speedier HSPA+ in some areas, with my one radio battery saving device looking at a silly YouTube clip and talking to my friend at the same time)…

    • Its too bad all data is being sold at priced fixed rates to make investors and companies MUCH more money than its worth(sold @ price)

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  • Rodney Coleman

    Att Kyle Texas 60 up 30 down no lie… Houston average 30-50 up and 28 down… F verizon

  • bryan

    ive had both verizon and at&t i loved the calling service on at&t no drop calls when both phones are connected to 3g in my area but when i went to Jackson MI i was getting about 4 to 10 mbps with at&t i have verizon right now and i get between 35 and 60 mbps my max at 57.83 mbps so it depends on the area of coverage and verizon will have full 4g coverage real soon so its better i have unlimited data through verizon download stuff all day

    • droi_d

      if you get 35-60 how is your max 57.83?

      • bryan

        my bad doesnt matter tho. i get 67.87 now in my hometown this is my actual max foreal this time

  • Drake Stevens

    You honestly need to think. Your test is false if. You do not have the same signal strength, time of day, or same device, you truly need to test 3 times on 3 different devices. By the way i live in Houma, Louisiana, i get averaging 35-39 mbps down and 12 mbps up. During the day, at night i can reach speeds up to 55 mbps, the fastest i ever got was 59 mbps. So redo your reaserch.

  • Tam

    That’s awesome and all. But I’ll stick with Verizon due to it’s great coverage and consistent call quality. As of today Verizon has 500 markets covered with LTE, which makes it’s coverage match 99% of it’s 3G CDMA. An as we all know, Verizon’s 3G coverege is the most consistent in US regardless of what someone gets in his girlfriend’s house ( talking national coverage here ). Furthermore, this puts Verizon users one step closer to getting LTE-Advanced and I’m all in for having the first LTE-A service.