The latest volley of dueling reports rating mobile networks has dropped, with network testing firm RootMetrics crowning Verizon with the title.
That's not really a shock. Verizon's win, which covers performance during the second half of 2017, is the ninth consecutive test period where Big Red has captured the top spot in RootMetrics' rankings.
In this latest report, which is based on more than 4.6 million tests pulled from driving more than 246,000 miles and testing 8,191 indoor sites, Verizon finished first overall, while also taking top position in the reliability, speed, data and call categories. It tied with AT&T and Sprint for the best text performance, the second time those two carriers have split the honors with Verizon in that category.
In its report, RootMetrics called Verizon's results "second to none" nationally as well as on the state and metro levels. Verizon earned 601 metro awards, the most of any carrier, though that was down from the 617 awards it won during the first half of 2017. Second-place AT&T also saw its metro awards drop to 365, down from 396 in the previous six months. The big gainer here was T-Mobile, which saw its metro awards haul climb to 301, up from 271 when RootMetrics published its last report.
AT&T was the clear runner-up in RootMetrics' overall rankings, finishing second in five of the six categories the testing firm measures. That includes an outright second-place finish in call performance; in the first half of 2017, AT&T tied with Sprint in that category.
AT&T also saw its lead over T-Mobile in the data and network speed categories narrow, with RootMetics describing the gap between the two carriers as "narrow." Nevertheless, T-Mobile's position in RootMetrics' rankings hasn't changed since the second half of 2014, with the Uncarrier finishing either third or fourth in the testing firm's six categories.
RootMetrics' report comes a few weeks after a different testing firm, OpenSignal, published its crowd-sourced results for the end of 2017, which ranked T-Mobile as the top carrier. As you might imagine, carriers tend to tout whichever report paints them in the best light, with Verizon trumpeting its RootMetrics winning streak whenever OpenSignal's results come out while T-Mobile talks up its wins in other tests. For its part, Sprint put out a statement after the RootMetrics report came out that noted its ongoing improvements to its network and its improved download speeds as measured by Ookla, yet another testing firm.
When we last tested network speeds, we found that Verizon had the fastest LTE download speeds, though T-Mobile and its MetroPCS subsidiary were a close second. Those results are more than a year old, though, and we plan to hit the road soon to get updated numbers that will show us how the Big Four carriers compare.