RootMetrics Releases Findings on Best 4G Cities

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Surprising Results Show New York City, Washington D.C., Boston and Miami Don’t Make the Cut as a “4G City”

4G Cities

RootMetrics™, the first independent service to measure mobile experience from a consumer’s point of view, announced results from comprehensive testing in 27 different local markets* telling which of those cities qualify as “4G Cities.” Since March 2011, members of the RootMetrics test squad have traveled the country and performed more than 238,000 data tests. By aggregating all of these data test results, the company has identified patterns of performance and can isolate carrier consistencies. The good news for mobile users is that RootMetrics tests revealed that 19 of the 27 markets exceeded the 4G threshold. Eleven earned “Upper Tier” status, recording speeds above the 4G threshold in more than 50 percent of tests. These include Denver (61.8 percent), Portland (61.5 percent), Minneapolis (60.2 percent), San Jose (59.2 percent), Dallas (57.6 percent), Cincinnati (56.8 percent), St. Louis (55 percent), San Francisco (52.9 percent), Sacramento (51.8 percent), Cleveland (51.4 percent) and Seattle (50 percent). Eight qualified as “Second Tier” status, recording speeds above the 4G threshold in 40-50 percent of tests. These include Atlanta (49.6 percent), Los Angeles (46.4 percent), Houston (45.2 percent), Milwaukee (45.1 percent), Phoenix (44.5 percent), Pittsburgh (43 percent), Philadelphia (42.2 percent) and Chicago (41.1 percent).

“We’re in the midst of a rapidly changing mobile environment as carriers continue to upgrade networks and aggressively roll out improvements,” said Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics. “We’re often asked for a quick answer on which carrier has the fastest network, but that can vary significantly depending on where you are. Our report aims to provide some context around what people are hearing today from the carriers by providing specific real-world results for different cities.”

To qualify as a “4G City,” a market needed to be able to offer consumers a multitude of possible carriers that reach 4G data speeds. RootMetrics looked for cities that enabled a consumer to access 4G speed 40 percent of the time. This figure represents a broad rollout of 4G among multiple carriers and assures there isn’t only one available 4G option.

Cities That Didn’t Make the 4G Cut
During its testing, RootMetrics discovered eight markets that missed the 4G threshold, including major metropolitan areas such as New York City; Washington, DC; Boston; Kansas City; and Miami. With the exception of Washington, D.C., none of these cities offered a majority of carriers performing above the 4G threshold more than 40 percent of the time. In addition, New York City, Boston and Miami represent three of the four slowest-performing LTE markets for Verizon. And the nation’s capital suffered from AT&T’s worst performance in our testing to date: the carrier exceeded the 4G threshold in Washington, D.C. only 5.2 percent of the time. Smaller markets that also missed the cut include Riverside-San Bernardino, Virginia Beach and Buffalo, New York. None of these three markets exceeded the 4G threshold more than 25.5 percent of the time.

RootMetrics’ Performance Testing Spectrum
During the performance tests, RootMetrics used average speeds to compare the carriers, and established a series of threshold speeds for this study. The company compares carrier performance along the following spectrum:

  •     Data download speeds greater than 3 Mbps will be considered “4G”
  •     Speeds between 1.5 Mbps and 3 Mbps will be considered “Upper 3G”
  •     Speeds between 500 kbps and 1.5 Mbps will be considered “Lower 3G”
  •     Any speed below 500 kbps would create an especially slow experience for consumers and will be considered “Below 3G”

To evaluate the data speeds in the 27 local markets, RootMetrics performed more than 238,000 data tests, covering all hours of the day and night, between the months of March and October 2011. Tests centered on typical activities that consumers perform on their smartphones including uploading and downloading files from the Internet.

The RootMetrics RootScore Progress Report analyzes the data test results from 27 individual local U.S. wireless markets. The company will continue to publish additional reports on local U.S. wireless markets and additional “Progress Reports" to help evaluate any changes in carrier performance.

Consumers who are interested to see how their network coverage measures up can download the free RootMetrics Cell Phone Coverage Map App for iPhone or Android devices.

Mobile performance varies depending on where people live, work or otherwise spend time.
The results of this report combined with the geographical coverage maps at and via the Cell Phone Coverage Map Apps allow people to make better decisions about the right carrier for their individual needs.

About RootMetrics™

Bellevue, Washington-based RootMetrics is building a movement to create a more open mobile market that democratizes mobile performance data. Deploying a sophisticated smartphone application, RootMetrics partners with consumers to collect network signal strength and data throughput speeds, aggregating collected metrics into easy-to-understand maps that rate each carrier’s performance. This comparative data provides transparency into comparative carrier performance down to the most granular levels. For more information, please visit

*The 27 markets include: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Riverside-San Bernardino, St. Louis, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Virginia Beach, Washington, D.C.


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Ann Marie Ricard
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