RootMetrics Report: T-Mobile Narrows Carrier Performance Gap in Two Bay Area Cities

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In both San Francisco and San Jose, T-Mobile is narrowing the mobile carrier performance gap with the recent launch of LTE service in both cities significantly boosting T-Mobile’s data speeds.

In both San Francisco and San Jose, T-Mobile is narrowing the mobile carrier performance gap with the recent launch of LTE service in both cities significantly boosting T-Mobile’s data speeds. That’s according to independent mobile analytics firm RootMetrics®, which measures mobile performance of the four national carriers with tests designed to replicate real-world consumer behavior.

In San Francisco, AT&T and T-Mobile had the strongest overall results and shared the top spot in the combined performance category, which includes results across data, call, and text testing. It was T-Mobile’s first time in the top spot in RootMetrics testing. Meanwhile, testing in San Jose resulted in a draw between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the combined performance category, with scores too close to declare a winner.

The RootMetrics combined performance score, or Combined 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 San Francisco:

1 – AT&T (95.1)
1 – T-Mobile (94.2)
3 – Verizon (93.5)
4 – Sprint (79.3)

The final combined performance RootScore rankings for San Jose:

1 – AT&T (97)
1 – T-Mobile (96.8)
1 – Verizon (96.1)
4 – Sprint (75.8)

T-Mobile shatters previous speed results
RootMetrics last tested in San Francisco in March of 2013 and San Jose in February of 2013. Since then, T-Mobile introduced LTE service in both cities and testing shows significantly faster data speeds for the carrier.

In San Francisco, T-Mobile’s average download speed jumped from 9.3 Mbps to 19.2 Mbps since March, and its average upload speed increased from 1.9 Mbps to 10.9 Mbps. In San Jose, T-Mobile’s average download speed jumped from 8.1 Mbps to 21.3 Mbps, and its average upload speed increased from 1.9 Mbps to 12.9 Mbps.

T-Mobile’s average download and upload speeds in the Bay Area were the fastest RootMetrics has recorded for the carrier to date.

“The Bay Area highlights many trends we've seen emerge across the mobile performance landscape. A couple of years ago, Verizon was ahead of the game. Last year, AT&T made strides. Now we're seeing T-Mobile step forward with impressive LTE speeds. In short, the gap is narrowing in the Bay Area,” said Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics. “This is all good news; as carriers improve performance, people in the Bay Area have more choices for quality mobile service.”

Average download and upload speeds in San Francisco
T-Mobile: 19.2 Mbps download/10.9 Mbps upload
AT&T: 16.5 Mbps download/9.5 Mbps upload
Verizon: 11.9 Mbps download/6.9 Mbps upload
Sprint: 3.7 Mbps download/2.3 Mbps upload

Average download and upload speeds in San Jose
T-Mobile: 21.3 Mbps download/12.9 Mbps upload
AT&T: 16.8 Mbps download/9.2 Mbps upload
Verizon: 13.5 Mbps download/7.8 Mbps upload
Sprint: 3.0 Mbps download/0.6 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 on average at speeds below 3.0 Mbps. At speeds above 6.0 Mbps, uploading a similar picture generally takes less than 1 second.

Reliability and Speed
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. Looking at the network reliability and speed indices in conjunction with Combined RootScores offers the most comprehensive look at a typical mobile experience in these Bay Area cities.

In San Francisco, Verizon and AT&T both ranked highest in network reliability, and T-Mobile had the highest rank in network speed.

Reliability Index rankings for San Francisco:
1 – Verizon (95.2)
1 – AT&T (94.9)
3 – T-Mobile (92.2)
4 – Sprint (79.5)

Speed Index rankings for San Francisco:
1 – T-Mobile (100.9)
2 – AT&T (96.2)
3 – Verizon (87.9)
4 – Sprint (70.4)

In San Jose, Verizon and AT&T both ranked highest in network reliability, and T-Mobile had the highest rank in network speed.

Reliability Index rankings for San Jose:
1 – Verizon (97.5)
1 – AT&T (97.3)
3 – T-Mobile (94.4)
4 – Sprint (76.9)

Speed Index rankings for San Jose:
1 – T-Mobile (104.5)
2 – AT&T (95.7)
3 – Verizon (90.4)
4 – Sprint (64.9)

Comprehensive findings for each city, including email, call, and text results, are available in the San Francisco report and the San Jose report.

Over 46,000 tests total in San Francisco and San Jose
To evaluate the mobile experience, RootMetrics conducted call, data, and text tests on the networks of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon during all hours of the day and night in San Francisco from October 2 – October 9, 2013 and in San Jose from October 10 – 15, 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 and outdoors during drive tests. 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 San Jose or San Francisco. For details about the results, see the methodology section of the online report.

About RootMetrics™
Based in Bellevue, WA, RootMetrics® is an independent mobile analytics firm that offers unparalleled, actionable insights into the consumer mobile experience. An advocate for consumers, RootMetrics provides data and reports free to the public to help them make more informed mobile decisions. 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. The end result: a better mobile experience for consumers.

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Ann Marie Ricard
Rootmetrics
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