RootMetrics Introduces New Report Offering an Early Look at T-Mobile’s LTE Performance

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Early Results Show T-Mobile Offering Impressive Performance; Established LTE Carriers Have Top-line Advantages in Speed, Overall Coverage

Independent mobile analytics firm and consumer advocate RootMetrics™ announced today a new report providing an early look at T-Mobile’s LTE network performance. RootMetrics provides free mobile performance information to help consumers make more informed decisions and improve their mobile lives. In this newest report, RootMetrics visited Las Vegas, one of the initial seven cities where T-Mobile introduced LTE, and put the network through a week-long, in-depth test cycle. AT&T and Verizon also offer LTE in this market, and the report shows how T-Mobile stacks up against these more mature LTE offerings. A key finding of the report shows that, though T-Mobile offered impressive performance for an initial rollout, the two more established LTE carriers recorded faster average speeds, showed considerable advantages when it comes to top-line or maximum speeds, and offered more comprehensive LTE footprints.

To provide a true snapshot of LTE, RootMetrics stripped out all non-LTE test results to look at topline performance. The report also takes a look at how often RootMetrics was able to access the LTE network during testing. And since wireless consumers aren’t always on LTE, the report provides information on non-LTE speeds.

The Promise and Potential of LTE

AT&T had by far the fastest LTE-only average download speed in Las Vegas, at 18.7 Mbps. Verizon’s LTE-only average download speed was 13.9 Mbps. T-Mobile was neck-and-neck with Verizon, at 12.5 Mbps.

In LTE-only average upload testing, T-Mobile recorded a speedy 7.1 Mbps. This is a significant improvement over many test results RootMetrics has reported for the carrier’s non-LTE network upload tests. If the Las Vegas results hold true in other markets, T-Mobile customers could be in for a marked increase in upload speeds.

In comparison, AT&T recorded an LTE-only average upload speed of 9.3 Mbps in Las Vegas and Verizon’s LTE-only average upload speed clocked in at 8.3 Mbps.

Likelihood of LTE

Based on what RootMetrics observed from past testing, the company didn’t expect full coverage in Las Vegas from T-Mobile during this initial rollout phase and that trend held true. During testing, RootMetrics was able to access T-Mobile’s LTE network in 65.8% of its download and 60.7% of its upload tests. RootMetrics expects this footprint to grow as T-Mobile expands its coverage.

While 65.8% is a solid showing for T-Mobile’s LTE launch, the two more established LTE carriers offered incredibly consistent, amazingly comprehensive LTE coverage in Las Vegas. RootMetrics accessed AT&T’s LTE network in 99.0% of downloads and 98.9% of upload tests, and Verizon came in even better at 99.6% for downloads and 99.7% for upload tests. For these two carriers, widespread LTE access is a reality for customers in Las Vegas.

Non-LTE Speeds

RootMetrics observed a difference in non-LTE speeds compared to previous testing done in Las Vegas in October 2012. In October, T-Mobile averaged 8.6 Mbps for non-LTE average download speed. During this test period, RootMetrics recorded a solid, but significantly slower 5.4 Mbps non-LTE average download speed. RootMetrics assumes the change is either due to the carrier devoting some of its HSPA+ spectrum for LTE, or because areas that previously offered the very fast HSPA+ 42 speeds are the first to receive LTE coverage. In other words, perhaps the HSPA+ speeds haven’t dropped; RootMetrics might simply be recording less of the HSPA+ 42 samples because its phones are now accessing LTE in those areas.

Speed Buckets

At the end of the day, it is consistency of speed that most impacts people’s mobile experience. The RootMetrics speed bucket testing shows how often each carrier delivered speeds within four ranges:
Slower than 3 Mbps – Lagging-behind speeds
3-10 Mbps – Likeable speeds
10-20 Mbps – Lightning-fast speeds
Faster than 20 Mbps – The LTE elite

In testing, the slowest bucket and fastest bucket show the clear points of carrier differentiation in RootMetrics Las Vegas testing. Across all network technologies, T-Mobile fell into the slowest bucket of Lagging-behind speeds the most often. At 18.6%, they nearly doubled the rate of Verizon (9.9%) in the slow bucket.

At the other end of the spectrum, AT&T dominated the LTE elite category, with 36.5% of its testing coming in at speeds above 20 Mbps. Verizon managed to reach LTE elite speeds 20.8% of the time, while T-Mobile did so 15.3% of the time.

RootMetrics will continue to monitor the LTE race and will provide regular reports that provide an in-depth look at all four of the major carriers.

The results of RootMetrics reports, 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.

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Ann Marie Ricard
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