AT&T and Verizon Locked in Close Battle for LTE Superiority in San Francisco, RootMetrics Testing Finds

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Data speeds in the Bay Area have continued to improve for most carriers since RootMetrics first began testing in June 2011

"With the rapidly changing mobile landscape, we’re finding new results and new category leaders each time we test a metropolitan area." - Bill Moore

RootMetrics™ announced today the latest San Francisco RootScore™ Report and corresponding RootScore Awards. Complementing consumer-generated results from the RootMetrics CoverageMap app, the RootMetrics scout team professionally tests how carriers perform in cities across the country. The San Francisco report analyzed results from 14,280 data, call, and text tests on the AT&T, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks using technology RootMetrics designed to replicate real-world mobile usage.

RootMetrics has previously scouted San Francisco twice before, in June 2011 and February 2012.

“Consumer demand for better mobile performance is driving faster data speeds, increased coverage and more mobile options than ever before,” said Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics. “With the rapidly changing mobile landscape, we’re finding new results and new category leaders each time we test a metropolitan area.”

Observed Changes in San Francisco
In this visit to the Bay Area, AT&T outpaced Verizon in average download speed, delivering an average of 15.3 Mbps compared to Verizon’s 10.8 Mbps. In upload speed, however, Verizon led the way with an average upload speed of 9.7 Mbps to AT&T’s 5.6 Mbps. During February testing in San Francisco, both carriers delivered statistically equal performances in average download and upload data speed measures.

Most notably, while Verizon’s LTE network delivered an average upload speed that was slightly faster than the previous test, their average download speed decreased significantly, from 16.7 Mbps to 10.8 Mbps.

T-Mobile delivered a significant improvement in their average download speed, jumping from 1.9 Mbps to 8.8 Mbps.

Which Carrier Ranks First in San Francisco?    

RootMetrics sorted the test results in order to share with consumers which carrier provided the fastest and most reliable data network, which carrier had the fewest blocked and dropped calls, and which carrier offered the fastest text service.

•Data Performance: The RootMetrics data performance tests analyzed how fast each carrier’s network was able to download and upload files and how often a customer could successfully connect to a data network.

AT&T and Verizon tied for first in data performance. For those who upload data often, it’s noteworthy that Verizon recorded an average upload speed significantly higher than all other carriers at 9.7 Mbps, while AT&T placed 2nd at 5.6 Mbps.

•San Francisco 4G Comparison and Potential San Francisco Slowdowns:
To give consumers a more complete picture of how the carriers performed in San Francisco, RootMetrics compared how often the carriers recorded speeds greater than 5 Mbps, a threshold they believe easily qualifies as “4G” speed.
AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon each recorded download speeds above 5 Mbps in at least 68.5% of tests.

Although T-Mobile trailed AT&T and Verizon when comparing average download speeds, their performance was much closer when looking at how often each carrier delivered download speeds above 5 Mbps.

Sprint recorded the greatest percentage of download and upload speeds below 1.5 Mbps, doing so in 61.4% and 76.4% of their tests, respectively.

•Data Reliability: In San Francisco, Verizon placed 1st in all data reliability measures. Sprint placed last in overall data reliability.

•Call Performance: RootMetrics analyzed call performance by measuring both dropped calls and blocked calls (the inability to place an outgoing call). All carriers displayed strong performances in the San Francisco market, but Verizon’s performance was statistically superior.

•Text Performance: RootMetrics compared how long it took each carrier to receive a single text message. AT&T and Verizon recorded the fastest overall receive times of 3.8 and 3.9 seconds, respectively, while MetroPCS and Sprint shared last place with 17.8 seconds and 25.5 seconds, respectively. Verizon delivered texts in less than 10 seconds 83.6% of the time. Conversely, Sprint delivered texts in more than one minute 26.9% of the time.

•Overall: AT&T and Verizon tied for first in the combined standings for San Francisco. The final results are:
1 – Verizon (92)
2 – AT&T (90)
3—T-Mobile (70)
4 – MetroPCS (56)
5 – Sprint (49)

The August 2012 San Francisco RootScore Report is the latest in an ongoing series of performance measurement reports and corresponding RootScore Awards from RootMetrics. The company will continue to publish additional reports on U.S. wireless markets to help consumers make better decisions about the right carrier for his or her individual needs. Review all RootScore reports at

To evaluate the mobile experience in the San Francisco area, RootMetrics conducted 14,280 call, data, and text tests during a seven-day period, covering all hours of the day and night, July 18 – July 24, 2012. The tests, which mimic real-world mobile phone behavior, were conducted using the RootMetrics CoverageMap app running on Android-based, off-the-shelf consumer smartphones purchased from carrier stores in San Francisco. To ensure that testing aligns with the consumer experience, and to provide each carrier with the chance to rate as highly as possible, RootMetrics utilizes the most advanced smartphones available at the time of testing. Tests are conducted on activities that consumers perform most often: making phone calls, uploading and downloading files from the Internet, and sending and receiving texts.

Consumers who are interested to see how their network coverage performs compared to other carriers can download the free RootMetrics Cell Phone CoverageMap 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 CoverageMap app, allow people to make better decisions about the right carrier for their individual needs.

About RootMetrics™
Based in the Seattle area, RootMetrics is a fiercely independent data company dedicated to helping improve the daily mobile experience of consumers. Numbers are powerful and helping the mobile consumer is our #1 priority. We’re a facilitator between consumers and carriers, using technology on smartphones to gather independent data so that the carriers hear real-world concerns, can make smarter decisions on how to upgrade their networks, and connect with consumers. We’re gathering accurate, trusted data that helps consumers find the products and services that best fit their unique needs so that they can get the most out of their mobile lives. RootMetrics: making mobile work better for consumers.

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Ann Marie Ricard
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