Philadelphia: Sprint's Time to Shine
Sprint may be in fourth among the Big Four wireless providers, but in Philadelphia, at least it wound up on top in our LTE tests.
When we did our networking testing at sites around the City of Brotherly Love, Sprint's network posted the best average download speed. Boost, the prepaid carrier that uses Sprint's network, actually posted the overall top speed at 44.2 Mbps, but Sprint itself wasn't far behind with a 43.2 Mbps average.
MORE: Sprint: It's Not As Bad As You Think
Sprint benefited from a consistently strong network, whether in more densely populated areas, like Fishtown and the popular Spruce Street Harbor Park on the east side, to more remote reaches outside the city, like a warehouse down in the Navy Yard.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Average Download Speed, Philadelphia||Average Upload Speed, Philadelphia||Average App Download Time (Min:Sec)|
|Boost||44.2 Mbps||2 Mbps||0:56|
|Sprint||43.2 Mbps||2.7 Mbps||0:32|
|AT&T||36.1 Mbps||9.7 Mbps||0:39|
|Metro||28.6 Mbps||12 Mbps||1:08|
|T-Mobile||26.2 Mbps||12.1 Mbps||1:18|
|Verizon||16.9 Mbps||3.6 Mbps||1:30|
|Cricket||5.9 Mbps||2.7 Mbps||1:24|
|Straight Talk||3.7 Mbps||4.5 Mbps||2:15|
Sprint also had the fastest time on our app download test in Philly, downloading Discord in an average of 32 seconds. Only AT&T came close at 39 seconds, and Boost was the only other carrier whose average download time was less than a minute.
As for upload speed, T-Mobile averaged the fastest at 12.1 Mbps. Its Metro by T-Mobile subsidiary was the only other wireless provider to top 10 Mbps on average.
The biggest surprise from Philly was Verizon's lackluster performance, given how the carrier dominated the rest of our testing. Only Straight Talk (which was using Verizon's network) and Cricket (which puts a cap on data speeds) posted worse averages for download speeds.
Our results reflect an average of five Speedtest.net tests conducted at six sites around Philadelphia. 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 Philadelphia performance was an outlier. On a national level, the carrier came out on top as the fastest wireless network, topping both AT&T and T-Mobile. Check out our full national results.
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.