T-Mobile ranked as the top wireless carrier the United States, a recent OpenSignal report reveals.
AT&T, which offers average speeds of 2.2 Mbps, was unable to match the 3G download speeds offered by T-Mobile, which sits comfortably at 3.5 Mbps. T-Mobile also secured itself the top spot for 4G, with a 12.3 Mbps download speed, only slightly above the 12 Mbps from Verizon.
Numbers show that both Sprint and Verizon scored unimpressive results on 3G with 0.6 Mbps and 0.7 Mbps. Looking at 4G, Sprint and AT&T offer download speeds of 6.6 Mbps and 7.9 Mbps.
For a bit of context: the average LTE network user in the U.S. works with a speed of 9.9 Mbps. It might be perfect for Internet surfing and app handling, but looking at the bigger picture shows that there is room for improvement.
The worldwide average reads 13.5 Mbps, with global leaders such as Singapore and New Zealand having an average LTE speed of 33 Mbps and 36 Mbps, respectively.
OpenSignal's study shows that the U.S. sits comfortably when it comes to national coverage. Network subscribers are getting LTE signal about 81 percent of the time, putting the country among the top 10. Considering how wide the American territory is, this is quite a feat.
Speaking of coverage, T-Mobile scored well in this sector, as well.
The company's CEO, John Legere, fueled the expansion efforts of T-Mobile. If the "Uncarrier" used to have only 61 percent coverage two years ago, according to the recent study the company reached the national average of 81 percent.
Out of the four big carriers, only Sprint sits behind T-Mobile, with 70 percent coverage. Verizon leads the pack with 86 percent while AT&T follows with 82 percent. It should be noted that coverage is not measured geographically. Instead, OpenSignal computes the amount of time subscribers have an LTE signal available to them.
OpenSignal, which takes its data from a network testing app installed on the handsets of 181,927 U.S. users, explains how T-Mobile's growth came to be in such a short amount of time. The company's recent expansion happened because T-Mobile was not afraid to cannibalize its own 2G network. This practically freed up a consistent portion of spectrum, which went straight to LTE.
"The majority of voice calls still go over 2G networks, but as U.S. operators move that traffic over to LTE they can start shutting down 2G networks and use that spectrum for [LTE]," the report reads.
Consumer Reports also placed T-Mobile ahead of its rivals. The evaluation took various variables into account such as value, texting services, voice quality, customer support, data speeds and web problems. In the consumer report, T-Mobile ranked first in customer support and value.
Should the U.S. aim to upgrade its national LTE speed, more spectrum is required. Telecom players from the country could be in luck, as the FCC plans to sell off some of the 600-MHz band that used to be dedicated to long range broadcast TV.
The good news is that the auction for the low frequencies starts on March 29 this year. The bad news is that the local TV stations that currently occupy the frequencies have a 39-month period until they are obliged to move out.