Fastest wireless network 2020: It’s not even close

New York: Verizon Takes Manhattan

When it comes to LTE speed tests, it was a clean sweep for Verizon in the City That Never Sleeps. Big Red had the best average download and upload speeds when we tested eight carriers at different locations around New York. It also shared the fastest time for downloading the Discord app.

How complete was Verizon's New York City domination? The second-best download and upload averages were posted by Straight Talk in our testing. And the Straight Talk-supplied Galaxy S9 we used in our testing was using a Verizon-tied SIM card. (Straight Talk gives you a choice of which carrier's network to piggyback on.)

Verizon's average download speed was 84.6 Mbps across six test sites in New York. That's well ahead of the 54.8 Mbps Straight Talk posted. Sprint was the next fastest carrier at 42.6 Mbps, and its Boost subsidiary wasn't far behind at 42.1.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Average Download Speed, New YorkAverage Upload Speed, New YorkAverage App Download Time (Min:Sec)
Verizon84.6 Mbps25.4 Mbps0:16
Straight Talk54.8 Mbps24.5 Mbps0:29
Sprint42.6 Mbps6.2 Mbps0:22
Boost42.1 Mbps5.5 Mbps0:21
AT&T32 Mbps8.3 Mbps0:16
T-Mobile25.8 Mbps14.3 Mbps1:23
Metro22.5 Mbps11.4 Mbps1:30
Cricket7.4 Mbps7.6 Mbps0:43

For upload speeds, Verizon's 25.4 Mbps average was just ahead of Straight Talk's 24.5 Mbps result. T-Mobile came in third with a 14.3 Mbps upload speed.

AT&T joined Verizon in the winner's circle for the fastest app download time, as both carriers completed a Discord download in 16 seconds. Boost and Sprint were right behind at 21 and 22 seconds, respectively.

New York residents looking to avoid slow data speeds should probably skip Cricket. The AT&T-owned carrier had the worst download average, thanks to the 8 Mbps cap it places on download speeds, and its upload average topped only Sprint and Boost. At least Cricket was able to download Discord in 43 seconds on average, which was faster than the minute-plus times T-Mobile and its Metro subsidiary posted.

Our results reflect an average of five tests conducted at six sites around New York City. At each test site, we also downloaded the 40MB Discord app from the Google Play store onto Galaxy S9 phones tied to each carrier.

In addition to finishing on top in New York City, Verizon also captured our overall ranking for the fastest wireless network, topping AT&T and T-Mobile. Check out our full national results.

Tom's Guide Staff

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  • seoguy
    Archived comments are found here:
  • danbfree
    2016? Your tests are from September of 2015 and despite not being that "old", things have changed a lot since then and again, is not from 2016. Bad clickbait headline!
  • Mike_310
    i call BS. Verizon is only 5% faster than tmobile yet the same app downloads 40% faster on Verizon?
  • chrisfo1
    You should change what speeds were actually being measured. Verizon does not have 24Megabytes per second download. That is insane cellular data speeds and is very very misleading. Those numbers are most likely Megabits* speed, not Megabytes. Mbps stands for Megabits. 1 Megabyte = 6 Megabits. When you download those speed test apps or go to websites testing your internet speed, you are testing the Megabits. So you should be seeing 144Mbps when you measure your speeds on the websites and apps. I am very certain you are not seeing such speeds via cell data lol. Not even close actually.
  • veladem
    @CHRISFO1 I easily get 50-100Mbps via Ookla on Straight Talk/AT&T. If you'd like a screen cap I can easily get you a few tested over the last half year or so.
  • taylorh_9
    In San Jose, I can safely say that T-Mobile is easily 2-3x faster than Verizon in most places (we have both.) Some places Verizon is faster or as fast. However T-Mobile's coverage kind of stinks. It's either all or nothing and you get nothing far too frequently whereas Verizon can range from slow to fast, but it always works.
    So speed tests are interesting, but I'm really more interested in consistent good performance in the most places, not rockin' fast performance in spots. Based on my experience, that's how these two measure up.
    Despite that, I'm eyeing the day I can switch to T-Mobile. Sadly some places I currently need coverage (remote rural) T-Mobile simply has no signal whatsoever.
  • flameout00
    Definitely depends on which part of the Country you are in. Maybe I'm just in a really great spot, but I get around 130 Mbps download and 15 upload (Sprint, Galaxy S7 Edge, Ookla speedtest app) and these results are fairly consistent
  • PReed4962
    Cricket advertises their speed at 8Mbps - it is not meant to be as fast as AT&T - its also A LOT less expensive.
  • Zuper_
    These tests are always meaningless. Verizon spends its money in cities. Sprint is hardly a national carrier, drive through flyover country with a sprint phone and you will be roaming on the verizon network most of the time.
  • Chris_442
    I'm in North jersey and since my galaxy S8 got here last week I've been averaging download speeds on sprint btwn 35mbps to 45mbps with two tests this weekend as high as 67mbps. I drive for a living and those speeds have been pretty consistent across much of the urban/suburban NY metro area. Those speeds are twice as fast as what I was getting with my S6 five days ago. Maybe the new in phone antenna is the difference. Sprint has been trying to get manufacturers to build phones with the latest antenna for a while now and Samsung finally delivered. I'm sure Verizon had something to do with delaying advancement in technology especially by a competitor.