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Who’s the fastest carrier? The answer will shock you!

A big chunk of people use a smartphone these days, but if you’re on the hunt for the fastest data speeds possible, is your mobile provider the best one out there?

With the inevitable roll out of 5G, carriers have been busy improving their networks with expanded footprints, dedicated bandwidth, and newer technology. But are consumers reaping the fruits of these investments?

Read on and let’s explore the current state of data speeds across the U.S. The results may surprise you.

U.S. speeds on the upswing

The Ookla’s 2018 Speedtest U.S. Mobile Performance Report just came out and the results are quite surprising.

The good news? The mean mobile download speed for the U.S. has increased by 20.4 percent from a year ago to 27.33 Mbps.

This increase is mainly due to the network and infrastructure improvements the four major U.S. carriers have deployed in the last year. This figure is only good enough for 43rd place in the world, though.


Who is the fastest carrier?

Surprise, surprise! T-Mobile is now the fastest carrier in the U.S, taking the crown from Verizon this year.

T-Mobile’s speed score average is at 27.86 Mbps, followed by Verizon at 26.02, AT&T at 22.17 and Sprint at 20.38.

The surge in T-Mobile’s data speeds is largely credited to its acquisition of the 600 MHz spectrum and its expansion of its LTE coverage by adding thousands of cell sites in over 900 cities and towns across 32 U.S. states.

Verizon, on the other hand, has been improving its network efficiency by fast-tracking the rollout of advanced LTE features like 4X4 MIMO and 256 QAM.

AT&T, the network which has the most diverse spectrum portfolio with its seven frequency bands, has also started rolling out newer 5G technologies (LTE-LAA) to more U.S. markets.

Sprint may have the slowest network of the bunch but it actually has the most improved download speeds compared to last year. This is due to its commitment of the 40 MHz – 60 MHz spectrum of its network to LTE.

iPhone X vs Galaxy S9 comparison

To check the performance of the networks on two flagship devices, Ookla also reviewed the results from 351,847 Apple iPhone Xs and 20,822 Samsung Galaxy S9s during the first quarter of 2018.

Due to the Galaxy S9’s four receive antennas (the iPhone X only has two), it has consistently outpaced Apple’s flagship phone across all carriers, and it’s not even close. The average network speed difference between the Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X is between 6 Mbps and 11 Mbps.

The biggest difference is on T-Mobile’s network where the Galaxy S9 averages 39.48 Mbps while the iPhone X can only muster an average of 28.93 Mbps. This is likely due to T-Mobile’s larger roll out of its 4X4 MIMO technology, a standard the Samsung Galaxy S9 can take advantage of.

The bad news? Speeds in rural areas are still slower

Although the speeds in urban areas are on the rise, rural area speeds are still significantly slower on all four major carriers.

Why so? Ookla thinks that it’s because of the fact that infrastructure is easier and cheaper to build and maintain in densely populated areas, investments are easier to justify in urban areas.

What do you think? Are the latest U.S. mobile broadband speed test results surprising to you? Drop us a comment!

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