With Significantly Faster Speeds than Other Carriers, Verizon Three-Peats as Top Performing Carrier in Los Angeles

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RootMetrics Report: Los Angeles a Slower Market than Others in California

RootMetrics™ announced today the latest Los Angeles RootScore™ Report and corresponding RootScore Awards. Complementing consumer-generated results from the RootMetrics CoverageMap app, the RootMetrics scout team professionally tests how mobile carriers perform in cities across the country. The third Los Angeles report analyzed results from 75,242 data, call, and text tests on the AT&T, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks using smartphone technology RootMetrics designed to replicate real-world mobile usage.

The story in Los Angeles
While Los Angeles has a lot of things to brag about, testing from RootMetrics suggests that mobile performance isn’t necessarily one of them. The nation’s second-largest metro area, filled with power users who rely on their smartphones for both business and pleasure, isn’t anywhere close to the top 10 cities for mobile data speed.

RootMetrics found that this fast-paced city had some comparatively slow mobile data speeds. Los Angeles ranked 47th out of 77 markets when RootMetrics compared overall average download speed. To determine a market’s ranking, RootMetrics took the average download speeds found for all four major carriers within a given market and averaged them together. Los Angeles’s 47th place finish left them not only behind East Coast rival New York (38th) but also trailing in-state markets like San Jose (12th), San Diego (30th), and San Francisco (32nd).

Why so slow? The second story in Los Angeles is all about individual carrier performance. RootMetrics found that Verizon offered significantly faster speeds than the other carriers. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Verizon’s average download speed was more than twice as fast as that recorded by either AT&T or T-Mobile. This means that if Los Angeles consumers want to stream an HD movie on their phones, they could have twice as long of an initial buffer with AT&T or T-Mobile as they would have with Verizon. And after the movie begins, they might find some re-buffering on the slower carriers but likely wouldn’t experience that at all at the faster speeds RootMetrics recorded for Verizon. The speeds from the slower carriers pulled the overall speed average of Los Angeles down, despite Verizon’s fast performance.

Observations since Previous Test in Los Angeles
For the third consecutive time, Verizon won both the data and combined performance categories in Los Angeles. While the carrier’s average download and upload speeds decreased slightly since RootMetrics tested the area in February 2012, Verizon’s data speeds remained significantly faster than those of other carriers.

Which Carrier Ranks First in Los Angeles?    
RootMetrics analyzed 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.

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

Verizon’s LTE network delivered the fastest average download speed in Los Angeles at 15.5Mbps and the fastest average upload speed at 8.1 Mbps. In fact, Verizon’s average upload speed was faster than any other carrier’s average download speed. This is significant because RootMetrics has found that average download speeds are generally faster than average upload speeds. 

AT&T and T-Mobile delivered comparable average download speeds of 6.7 Mbps and 6.9 Mbps, respectively, which were significantly faster than those of MetroPCS and Sprint.

Sprint placed last in both average data speed measures.

•Los Angeles High Speed Data Comparison and Potential Slowdowns:
RootMetrics believes that sheer data speed isn’t necessarily the best indication of mobile performance. Perhaps a more important factor to consider is how often mobile users actually experience fast data speeds. Looking at the consistency with which a carrier offers speeds greater than 5 Mbps provides a good approximation of a fast mobile experience. The following shows how often each carrier recorded download speeds above 5 Mbps in Los Angeles:

o Verizon 79.4%
o T-Mobile 54.8%
o AT&T 50.2%
o Sprint 17.1%
o MetroPCS 1.3%

AT&T and Verizon were the only carriers to record upload speeds above 5 Mbps, doing so in 26.0% and 63.9% of speed tests, respectively.

RootMetrics has found that data speeds slower than 1.5 Mbps often result in poor experiences when downloading or uploading files. Sprint recorded download and upload speeds below 1.5 Mbps more often than other carriers during testing, doing so 60.9% and 72.4% of the time, respectively.

•Data Reliability: Verizon provided the most reliable network in Los Angeles, with an overall network success rate of 96.5%. Sprint, meanwhile, placed last in all network reliability measures, with an overall network success rate of 79.1%.

•Call Performance: RootMetrics analyzed call performance by measuring both dropped calls and blocked calls (the inability to place an outgoing call). AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon delivered statistically comparable first place call performances. . Therefore, RootMetrics was unable to declare a winner in the category.

•Text Performance: To replicate the most typical user experience, RootMetrics compared how long it took each carrier to send and receive text messages. T-Mobile and AT&T delivered the strongest texting performance in Los Angeles and shared a victory in the category.

•Overall: With the strongest overall performance in Los Angeles, Verizon won the combined category for the third consecutive time. The final results are:
1 – Verizon (96)
2 – AT&T (71)
3 – T-Mobile (67)
4 – MetroPCS (54)
5 – Sprint (51)

The February 2013 Los Angeles 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 for 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 http://www.rootmetrics.com.

To evaluate the mobile experience in the Los Angeles area, RootMetrics conducted 75,242 call, data, and text tests during a seven-day period, covering all hours of the day and night, November 28 – December 5, 2012. The tests, which replicate real-world mobile behavior, were conducted using the RootMetrics RootScout ™ app running on Android-based, off-the-shelf consumer smartphones purchased from carrier stores. To ensure that testing aligns with the consumer experience, RootMetrics conducts tests on activities that consumers perform most often: making phone calls, uploading and downloading files from the Internet, and sending and receiving texts. To reflect how consumers use their phones on a daily basis, we conducted our tests both indoors (at 121 locations) and outdoors during drive tests (covering 3,329 miles).
Consumers who are interested to see how their network 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 http://www.rootmetrics.com 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 Bellevue, WA, RootMetrics is an independent company that provides accurate and unbiased mobile performance data to consumers via coverage maps, market-specific RootScore Reports, and a free downloadable 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. With data that is accurate and trusted by consumers and carriers, RootMetrics provides tools that empower consumers to find products and services that best fit their unique mobile needs.

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Ann Marie Ricard
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