RootMetrics Report: AT&T Remains Top-performing Network in Boston, but Sprint Makes Significant Strides

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AT&T remains the top-performing carrier in Boston, but Sprint’s data speeds improved significantly.

AT&T remains the top-performing carrier in Boston with the fastest data network, but Sprint’s data speeds improved significantly since last fall. That’s according to independent mobile analytics firm RootMetrics™, which conducts mobile performance tests designed to replicate real-world consumer behavior.

In the latest results, AT&T sat comfortably in the top spot among four carriers in Boston in the combined performance category, which includes results from data, call, and text tests. And once again, AT&T’s LTE network dominated the data category. AT&T’s blazing fast speeds were significantly faster than those of Verizon, the closest competitor.

The final combined performance RootScores rankings:

1 – AT&T (96)
1 – Verizon (92)
3 – T-Mobile (87)
4 – Sprint (85)

AT&T’s LTE is fastest, but Sprint picks up speed in Boston
AT&T and Verizon, both offering LTE service, provide consumers with fast download and upload speeds, and T-Mobile showed a strong non-LTE average download speed. While Sprint was the slowest of the four carriers in Boston, Sprint’s introduction of LTE earlier this year resulted in significantly improved data speeds. Sprint’s average download speed more than doubled since October 2012, and its average upload speed more than tripled.

Data speed affects 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.

Average download and upload speeds by carrier
AT&T: 20.2 Mbps download/8.4 Mbps upload
Verizon: 12.4 Mbps download/5.9 Mbps upload
T-Mobile: 8.9 Mbps download/1.8 Mbps upload
Sprint: 5.7 Mbps download/ 2.6 Mbps upload

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 was the fastest carrier for email downloads at 1.9 seconds, with Verizon close behind at 3.3 seconds. T-Mobile clocked in at 4.3 seconds, and Sprint followed with a time of 4.7 seconds.

Which carriers can you count on?
Verizon and AT&T led in network reliability testing, each with scores of 99.1. T-Mobile closely trailed the two leaders at 98.3, and Sprint scored a 97.2. The scores are based on how often each carrier successfully connected to the network and how reliable each carrier was in completing tasks.

Making the call
Call performance was strong for all four carriers. AT&T topped the others with a call failure rate of only 0.9%. Roughly 1 in 100 calls would fail at this rate. Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon had average call failure rates of 1.8% or lower.

Text me
Boston consumers have great choices when it comes to text service as well; all carriers made strides since our previous testing, delivering texts in less than 10 seconds at least 95% of the time.

More than 83,000 tests in Boston
To evaluate the mobile experience in the Boston area, RootMetrics conducted 83,392 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 May 10 – May 17, 2013. The tests were conducted using the RootMetrics RootScout app running on Android-based, off-the-shelf consumer smartphones purchased from each of the four carriers’ stores. Tests were conducted both indoors (at 114 locations) and outdoors during drive tests (covering 3,284 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
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