RootMetrics Report: AT&T Three-peats As Boston’s Top-performing Mobile Carrier

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AT&T was named the top-performing network in Boston for the third consecutive time, while T-Mobile’s recent launch of LTE service boosted the carrier’s data speeds.

AT&T was named the top-performing network in Boston for the third consecutive time, while T-Mobile’s recent launch of LTE service boosted the carrier’s data speeds. That’s according to independent mobile analytics firm RootMetrics®, which conducts mobile performance tests designed to replicate real-world consumer behavior.

With the strongest overall performance in Boston, AT&T took the top spot in the combined performance category, which includes results from data, call, and text testing of the four national carriers. The RootMetrics combined performance score, or RootScore, is synonymous with coverage: a good Combined RootScore means good overall coverage and a good consumer experience.

The final combined performance RootScore rankings for Boston:

1 – AT&T (96.5)
2 – Verizon (92.9)
3 – T-Mobile (88.0)
4 – Sprint (86.0)

While reliability and speed have always been part of how RootMetrics tests, the company recently introduced two standalone indices within RootScore Reports that give consumers a clear view of each network’s performance in these key areas. The new Reliability Index is based on a combination of results from data, call, and text tests, while the Speed Index includes data and text results.
In Boston, AT&T ranked the highest in both network reliability and speed..
Reliability Index rankings for Boston:
1 – AT&T (95.2)
2 – Verizon (93.5)
3 – T-Mobile (88.5)
4 – Sprint (86.8)

Speed Index rankings for Boston:
1 – AT&T (99.9)
2 – Verizon (88.5)
3 – T-Mobile (81.9)
4 – Sprint (76.8)

Looking at the network reliability and speed indices in conjunction with Combined RootScores offers the most comprehensive look at a typical mobile experience in Boston.
LTE from all four carriers in Boston.

All four major carriers now offer LTE service in Boston. While AT&T had the fastest speeds and won the RootScore Award for data performance, T-Mobile’s recent launch of LTE increased its average upload speed from 1.8 Mbps in July testing to 4.4 Mbps.

“In Boston, all four major carriers are touting LTE service, but as our testing shows, not all LTE is created equal,” said Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics. “With these reports, we want to give people an easy way to see beyond the hype to understand how the carriers are really performing.”

Average download and upload speeds by carrier:
AT&T: 20.3 Mbps download/9.7 Mbps upload
Verizon: 13.8 Mbps download/6.3 Mbps upload
T-Mobile: 10.2 Mbps download/4.4 Mbps upload
Sprint: 6.9 Mbps download/3.2 Mbps upload

Data speeds affect how quickly consumers can perform various tasks online. For example, in an ideal situation, uploading medium-sized pictures (1 MB) to Facebook or other online albums typically takes 25 to 45 seconds at speeds below 3.0 Mbps. At speeds above 6.0 Mbps, uploading a similar picture generally takes less than 1 second.

You’ve got mail — how long does it take to get it?
RootMetrics measured the average time it took each carrier to download a set of 10 emails. AT&T had the fastest time in Boston at 1.9 seconds, while Verizon followed with a time of 2.9 seconds. T-Mobile and Sprint took the longest to download email at 3.4 seconds and 3.9 seconds, respectively.

Making the call
While all four carriers had strong call performances in Boston, AT&T and Verizon had the strongest call results and shared a victory in the category, with average call failure rates of 0.9% or lower. To provide perspective, only about 1 in 100 calls would fail (drop or block) at this rate.

Text me
Boston has plenty of great options for texting services. All carriers tied for the most reliable text service, with send failure rates below 0.6% on average. All four carriers delivered texts in less than 10 seconds at least 96% of the time.

Nearly 78,000 tests in Boston
To evaluate the mobile experience in the Boston area, RootMetrics conducted 77,204 call, data, and text tests on the networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon during all hours of the day and night from September 30 – October 7, 2013. The tests were conducted using the RootMetrics RootScout app running on Android-based, off-the-shelf consumer smartphones purchased from carrier stores. Tests were conducted both indoors (at 97 locations) and outdoors during drive tests (covering 3,396 miles). Mobile performance varies depending on where people live, work, or otherwise spend time. Because a variety of factors can influence performance, examples that show what data speeds mean while performing various mobile activities are a general look at data speeds for illustrative purposes and aren’t specific to Boston. For details about the results, see the methodology section of the online report.

About RootMetrics®
Based in Bellevue, Wash., RootMetrics® is an independent company that provides accurate and unbiased mobile performance data with market-specific RootScore Reports, geographical coverage maps, and a free downloadable CoverageMap app for use on either Android or iOS devices. To ensure that RootMetrics testing reflects a typical consumer’s mobile experience, testing is conducted based on where, when, and how consumers use their devices most often.

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Ann Marie Ricard
Rootmetrics
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