How Do the 4G LTE Networks of AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint Stack Up?

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While Verizon offers the most widespread LTE coverage, AT&T offers the fastest pure LTE speeds, according to a new study conducted by Root Metrics.

LTEThe survey, which covered 77 LTE markets in the U.S. and included over 725,000 data samples, looked into the availability, connectivity, and speed of the LTE networks heralded by the four major U.S. wireless carriers.

AT&T won the speed race, with LTE download speeds of 18.6 Mbps and upload speeds of 9.0 Mbps. Researchers at Root Metrics were able to connect to LTE 81.7% of the time in the 47 of the 77 tested markets where AT&T LTE is available. Even when unable to connect to LTE though, AT&T still had the second-fastest non-LTE download and upload speeds, outpaced only by T-Mobile, at 4.3 Mbps and 1.1 Mbps respectively.

Verizon came in second in the speed tests, but first in terms of availability. Verizon LTE is available in all 77 markets tested and connectivity was achieved 93.2% of the time. Users will take a hit in speed, but it’s not a dramatic drop-off from what AT&T is offering. Verizon speeds came in at 14.3 Mbps for downloads with upload speeds of 8.5 Mbps.

Sprint, which offers LTE in just five of the 77 tested markets, came in a respectable third in terms of speed. The network’s average download speed was 10.3 Mbps while the upload speed came in at 4.4 Mbps, markedly over the times Sprint advertises (6-8 Mbps for downloads; 2-3 Mbps for uploads). Sprint’s LTE network is still growing and Root Metrics was able to connect to LTE in the five available markets just 50.2% of the time.

T-Mobile doesn’t yet offer LTE access to its customers, rather relying on its HSPA+42 network. However, the carrier provided the highest non-LTE speeds of the big four at 7.3 Mbps for downloads and 1.5 Mbps for uploads.

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