OpenSignal’s newly published State of Mobile Networks: USA report might have yielded very different results if it weren’t for Verizon and AT&T’s return to the unlimited data fold last year. It’s been nearly a year since AT&T and Verizon decided to bring back their unlimited plans, and that decision produced quite the shake-up in the U.S. mobile market.
After those unlimited plans debuted in February, both AT&T and Verizon saw their 4G speeds drop steadily in our tests. Those speeds began recovering in September, but as our U.S. report shows, both operators left the door open for their competitors to make gains at their expense. T-Mobile won five of OpenSignal’s awards, including 3G, 4G and overall speed; 4G availability; and 3G latency. The only award it didn’t win was 4G latency, which went to AT&T. T-Mobile’s 4G speed win was particularly noteworthy. It took this key award for the second report in a row, showing T-Mobile has taken advantage of Verizon’s unlimited setbacks to establish itself as the clear leader in this metric.
Sprint also saw its chance to make up lost ground. It was the most improved operator in our 4G availability tests, and over the last year we’ve recorded a 33% increase in its average 4G speeds. Sprint may still be in last place in our rankings for both metrics, but it’s closing the once considerable gap between itself and AT&T in both categories.
To read the full conclusions of our 4th-quarter U.S. report and see the data for yourself, be sure to check out the report page. We will provide further analysis on different aspects of our U.S. results soon, so keep an eye on this blog for updates.