New Report Says Verizon Network Wins, T-Mobile Cries Foul

The carrier war is so on. In its latest study, mobile analytics firm RootMetrics has declared that Verizon Wireless offers the best overall network performance among the Big Four wireless providers in the U.S.

Verizon says it's the fifth consecutive time it's claimed RootMetrics' top spot for network performance in the firm's half-yearly RootScore reports. RootMetrics looks at network reliability and speed performance across typical consumer activities such as checking email, browsing webpages, using apps, making calls and sending texts.

MORE: Tom's Guide's Best and Worst Phone Carriers

According to the RootMetrics findings, Verizon had the best performance in network reliability, speed, data and calls, while tying with AT&T for first place in text. The tests were conducted across 232,000 miles in 50 states from July to December 2015.

Verizon was quick to jump on the RootMetrics report, saying the results reflect the company's efforts to bolster its network. Chuck Hamby, Verizon's executive director of corporate communications, says Big Red spent $11.7 billion on its network last year, "more than any other carrier."

T-Mobile was just as quick to respond, with outspoken CEO John Legere releasing a statement that RootMetrics "should be banned as an independent source for network benchmarking." T-Mobile contends that RootMetrics turns off Voice Over LTE during its tests, which the carrier says handles 50 percent of the calls on its network. That produces skewed results, according to T-Mobile.

"Do we have to pay RootMetrics millions like the other carriers do to get them to stop deliberately turning off significant portions of our network and skewing results during their drive tests?" Legere said.

Sprint, which finished third in RootMetrics' overall performance rankings, opted to focus on the positive, noting that it passed AT&T to finish second in the mobile analytics firm's voice rankings. "Despite being outspent two-to-one by our top competitors, we see that we’re significantly closing the gap in network performance," Sprint chief technology officer John Saw wrote in a blog post.

The RootMetrics report arrives as Verizon is flooding the airwaves with TV ads touting its network performance. It also follows a report earlier this month from OpenSignal, another wireless testing company, that declared T-Mobile to have the fastest 4G LTE provider in America.

Network testing by Tom's Guide in six cities last year gave the edge to Verizon for network speed, though T-Mobile finished second. In our rankings of wireless carriers, which take plans, customer service and other features into account alongside network performance, T-Mobile finished ahead of Verizon.

If you're growing weary of all this back-and-forth between carriers — and I could go some time without seeing yet another TV spot in which a wireless provider is using brightly colored balls to illustrate its network's superiority — expect this RootMetrics report to only ratchet up the rhetoric. If it's any consolation, it likely means carriers will continue to roll out new plans and promotions as they try to convince us to switch over to their service.

Cherlynn Low

Cherlynn is Deputy Editor, Reviews at Engadget and also leads the site's Google reporting. She graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University before joining Tom's Guide and its sister site LaptopMag as a staff writer, where she covered wearables, cameras, laptops, computers and smartphones, among many other subjects.