Fastest wireless network 2020: It’s not even close

Seattle: Verizon Sneaks Past T-Mobile

T-Mobile has defended its home turf of Seattle very well in our previous network tests. And while the Uncarrier turned in another strong performance, Verizon pipped it in the end by matching its LTE download speeds and turning in faster upload times.

Metro by T-Mobile, using T-Mobile's network, actually had the fastest average download speed for Seattle at 63.7 Mbps, though T-Mobile's 62.2 Mbps average was right behind it. But Verizon was, too, with a 62.1 Mbps average. And Verizon's 21 Mbps upload speed was ahead of T-Mobile's 19.1 Mbps average.

It was on the app download test where Verizon edged ahead, by downloading Discord in an average of 14 seconds at six test sites around the city. T-Mobile and Metro turned in identical times of 1 minute and 5 seconds, with their average thrown off by their inability to complete the download in 5 minutes inside downtown Seattle's Westlake Center. (Every other carrier needed less than 1 minute to download the 40MB app at that test site.) That's bad luck for T-Mobile and Metro, but it doesn't change the fact that Verizon delivered a more consistent performance throughout our testing.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Average Download Speeds, SeattleAverage Upload Speeds, SeattleAverage App Download Time (Min:Sec)
Metro63.7 Mbps14.8 Mbps1:05
T-Mobile62.2 Mbps19.1 Mbps1:05
Verizon62.1 Mbps21 Mbps0:14
Straight Talk48.3 Mbps19.1 Mbps0:22
Sprint46.7 Mbps7.5 Mbps0:20
AT&T41.1 Mbps8.1 Mbps0:44
Boost35.8 Mbps7.6 Mbps0:34
Cricket6.1 Mbps5.6 Mbps1:27

If you've ever wondered which carrier performs best in a crowd, one of our Seattle test sites provides some insight. We tested inside Safeco Field during a Seattle Mariner game with 45,000-plus fans in attendance, many of whom were probably checking their phones on the same networks we were testing. Verizon had the best download speeds by some measure in this environment, with a 45.5 Mbps result. Sprint had the next fastest result at 26.6 Mbps. AT&T really struggled with a 4.5 Mbps download speed, and we had trouble even getting data downloaded off Cricket's network (a 0.02 Mbps download speed and an inability to download Discord after 5 excruciating minutes).

Cricket's the carrier to avoid in Seattle. It had the slowest time on our app download test, with a 1 minute and 27 second average. Its average download and upload speeds also were the worst of the wireless providers we tested, in large part because of the cap Cricket imposes on its data speeds.

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

Verizon's narrow margin of victory in Seattle was wider nationally. Big Red 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.