RootMetrics Compares Mobile Carriers in New Performance Review for 2012

Share Article

Report shares results from more than 2 Million call, data, and text tests in 78 U.S. Markets

BELLEVUE, Wash. (April 23, 2012) – Independent mobile analytics firm and consumer advocate RootMetrics™ announced today a new report that takes an industry-wide look at the major mobile carriers’ performances throughout 2012, with an eye on what’s ahead moving into 2013. The company provides free mobile performance information to help consumers make more informed decisions and improve their mobile lives.

In a year of significant change in the mobile performance marketplace, RootMetrics conducted more than 2 million real-world tests across 78 U.S. metropolitan markets to evaluate how the carriers performed in the ways people use their phone most often. RootMetrics measured performance both indoors and outdoors, across all hours of the day and night.

The new report is titled “2012 Carrier Performance in Review.” During 2012, RootMetrics found strong call performance across all carriers, and all carriers also did well in text tests. The report shows that data performance showed the most compelling changes during 2012, and the starkest differences between carriers. RootMetrics observed that the carriers are in the middle of an LTE rollout race, and the availability of LTE is having a significant impact on data performance.

AT&T: Faster Speeds as the Year Progressed
AT&T’s rapid LTE expansion paved the way for significant increases to its download and upload speeds during second-half testing. Its second-half average download speed of 12.2 Mbps narrowed the gap with Verizon, and its upload speeds were much faster than those of Sprint and T-Mobile. For consumers who like fast downloads or uploads, AT&T didn’t disappoint. AT&T also had strong showings in the call and text tests. In fact, AT&T trailed only Verizon in RootScore Awards in each of the four categories.

A 2012 highlight for AT&T was that it became the first carrier to record an average download speed faster than 20.0 Mbps in any market RootMetrics tested, and it did so in nine markets. Downloading a full HD movie would take about 30 minutes at these speeds.
AT&T RootScore Award Summary for 2012
49 – Data Awards
53 – Text Awards
26 – Call Awards
51 – Combined Category Awards

Sprint: Improved Call Performance and Steady Data Speeds
Sprint’s LTE service hadn’t been rolled-out in the majority of markets RootMetrics tested in 2012, and its slow non-LTE speeds could be troubling for consumers interested in data-heavy tasks like streaming HD videos. Speeds within its LTE markets, however, showed a significant improvement, and Sprint has promised more LTE to come in 2013. It’s also important to remember that mobile users are not created equal: for Sprint customers who send e-mail or surf the web, their experience may already be fast enough. Sprint won a total of three RootScore Awards, all of which were in the call category.

Sprint RootScore Award Summary for 2012
0-Data Awards
0-Text Awards
3- Call Awards
0-Combined Category Awards

T-Mobile: Strong Download Speeds that Got Faster Throughout the Year
Even though T-Mobile was the only major carrier without LTE service in 2012, its HSPA+42 network provided consumers with fast download speeds and a strong alternative to LTE.

T-Mobile was especially impressive during second-half testing, delivering an average download speed of 7.3 Mbps. While its average upload speeds lagged far behind those of AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile customers can expect fast experiences across a variety of activities that involve downloading data. T-Mobile customers interested in texting may find its 32 RootScore Awards encouraging, but it’s also worth noting that T-Mobile’s data and combined totals could rise if its LTE service provides fast speeds in 2013.

T-Mobile RootScore Award Summary for 2012
2 – Data Awards
32 – Text Awards
2 – Call Awards
1 – Combined Category Award

Verizon: Consistently Faster Speeds in More Markets across the U.S.
Verizon offered its LTE service in each of the 78 markets RootMetrics tested in 2012, and its speeds were faster than those of the other carries. For example, Verizon’s “slowest” average download speed was an impressive 6.1 Mbps and its slowest average upload speed was 2.7 Mbps. Even in its slowest markets, Verizon consumers still experienced strong speeds.

Verizon’s upload speeds were especially impressive. For customers interested in uploading data, Verizon’s second-half average upload speed of 7.9 Mbps was faster than the average download speeds of both Sprint and T-Mobile. And with download speeds faster than 13.0 Mbps on average, Verizon customers are likely in for a smooth ride, whether they’re downloading HD videos, sending e-mails, or uploading videos. Verizon’s call and text performances echoed its data speeds: they were stronger than those of any other carrier. Throughout 2012, Verizon earned 120 combined awards.

Verizon RootScore Award Summary for 2012
116 – Data Awards
69 – Text Awards
53 – Call Awards
120 – Combined Awards

The RootMetrics 2012 Carrier Performance in Review 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 markets to help consumers make better decisions about the right carrier for his or her individual needs. Consumers who are interested to see how their network performs compared to other carriers can download the free RootMetrics CoverageMap app for iPhone or Android devices. Review all RootScore reports at

To evaluate the carrier’s performance, RootMetrics conducted more than 2 million call, data, and text tests across 78 markets (76 were tested twice). The tests, designed to mirror a typical consumer’s mobile experience, 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, browsing the web and using apps, downloading email and sending and receiving texts.

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 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.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Ann Marie Ricard
Email >
Visit website