Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T Tied in Network Speed Tests

Three of the four leading mobile service providers in the U.S. are in a near-tie for fastest networks, according to the eighth annual speed tests by PCMag. Published yesterday, the head-to-head comparisons show that Verizon continues to hold the top spot in overall mobile network speeds nationwide.

Across three dozen regions, however, the Verizon's speeds are essentially matched by AT&T and T-Mobile. Sascha Segan, PCMag's lead mobile analyst, said it was "the first time we've seen that kind of an even divide."

Meanwhile, the fourth top mobile service provider, Sprint, lags significantly behind its competitors this year, the tests found. While its numbers improved dramatically in 2015 and 2016, its network performance this year was uneven, with low speeds in some regions causing its overall results to suffer.

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Using a customized version of Ookla's Speedtest software (Ookla is owned by the same parent company that owns PCMag), this year's network tests gathered more than 124,000 data points across 30 cities and six suburban/rural areas along the East Coast, West Coast and the country's midsection. The tests were conducted between May 1- May 23 using Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphones, which Segan noted is "currently the only device able to access new 'gigabit LTE' networks at full speed."

By averaging individual scores for each carrier across the U.S., PCMag ranked Verizon in this year's top spot with an overall score of 97 out of a possible 100. T-Mobile achieved an overall score of 96, followed by AT&T with 93 and Sprint with 74.

Those scores include numbers for average download speed (counting for 20 percent of the total score), download speeds over a threshold of 5 Mbps (20 percent), ping time (20 percent), reliability (20 percent), average upload speeds (10 percent), and upload speeds over a threshold...

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