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AT&T, Verizon Speeds Improve After Unlimited Data Crush

Nearly a year after re-introducing unlimited data plans, network speeds at Verizon and AT&T are beginning to tick back up, according to the network testing firm that claimed increased traffic from unlimited data had been slowing things down for those two wireless carriers.

Credit: Getty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In a blog entry posted today (Jan. 17), OpenSignal reported that its testing found that 4G speeds for both AT&T and Verizon had improved in recent months. However, the testing firm said that LTE speeds were still slower than they had been for both carriers prior to rolling out unlimited data plans in early 2017.

Today's news follows the semi-annual report OpenSignal put out last August, claiming that Verizon's 4G speed fell by 12 percent in the months after it launched an unlimited data plan last February. That same report found that AT&T's speeds slowed by 1 Mbps.

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While speeds still aren't what they were prior to last February, the latest findings from OpenSignal suggest that Verizon and AT&T are beginning to adjust to the increased traffic that comes from having subscribers consuming vast quantities of data. Over the summer, Verizon's speeds began to increase, with OpenSignal claiming that Big Red's average LTE speed had improved by 1.5 Mbps in a three-month period ending November 2017. AT&T's gains haven't been as dramatic according to OpenSignal, but network speeds are showing improvement there, too.

Credit: OpenSignal

(Image credit: OpenSignal)

But OpenSignal's new report has some bad news for Verizon and AT&T — rivals T-Mobile and Sprint have gotten faster, too. OpenSignal says that T-Mobile is "he clear leader in our 4G speed metric" while Sprint's average 4G speed is getting closer to AT&T's performance.

Both AT&T and Verizon offer two tiers of unlimited plans. AT&T's $60 Unlimited Choice plan caps data speeds at 3 Mbps and restricts video streaming to 480p resolution. Verizon's $75 Go Unlimited Plan has that same video streaming restriction while also reserving the right to slow data speeds when the network is congested. Both AT&T and Verizon offer more expensive unlimited plans that remove these respective restrictions.

Today's OpenSignal post isn't the company's full report on wireless network performance in the second half of 2017. OpenSignal says that report is coming soon; the firm typically publishes it in early February.