T-Mobile’s LTE and HSPA+ network latency comes out on top in comparison with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint

With yesterday’s news and encouragements regarding T-Mobile’s continued expansion of its own LTE network in the States and the gradual upgrading to 10+10 and 20+20 networks, it’s a further “cherry on the top” to hear that our favorite magenta colored carrier scored well on latency tests. In LTE, HSPA+ and HSPA tests, it came out on top of every comparison. Using a panel of over 1 million consumer devices, OpenSignal partnered with FierceWireless to show real world data.

With most network tests, the most commonly used measure of performance is to compare download and upload speeds. As any of you with knowledge will know, it’s not the only thing that makes a difference to daily internet use. Latency also factors in to the real-life experience. As explained by FierceWireless:

“…latency is defined as the time it takes for a source to send a packet of data to a receiver. Latency is typically measured in milliseconds. The lower the latency (the fewer the milliseconds) the better the network performance.”

With that in mind, we should take a look at a couple of the results. Firstly, LTE. Open Source tested latency on each of the four carriers. In this test, T-Mobile performed best, and was the only network to achieve results below 90ms. (You’ll have to forgive the obviously poor choice in color co-ordination.)

opensignal-oct-lte-new

Sprint, unsurprisingly, finished bottom of the pile, with Verizon and AT&T virtually level pegging. And it was a similar story for Tmo in the HSPA and HSPA+ tests too. In this case, it was only compared with AT&T since both Verizon and Sprint use CDMA technologies for their 3G networks.

opensignal-oct-3g-new

For those of you interested in the specific figures, the raw data is available at the source link below. But, it does show that when it comes to a responsive network, T-Mobile’s is up there with the best of them. Time will tell if this  gets better or worse with the addition of more LTE markets, and with the influx of new customers making use of the carrier’s network.

Source: FierceWireless

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  • Cam Bunton

    Seriously though, who decided to give the magenta bar to Verizon and blue to T-Mobile?

    • Mike Dano

      So while I appreciate that you’re linking to FierceWireless, don’t you think it’s a bit much that you’ve taken all of the charts and data from our page and reproduced them on your page? We’re trying to get people to visit our site just like you are. –Mike Dano, Executive Editor, FierceWireless.

      • Ben

        Those charts are also on other sites, Sir. Phonearena had them posted hours ago.

        • Mike Dano

          And that makes it OK?

        • Ben

          Certainly not. My point is your charts are not exclusive. I also wouldn’t call it piracy because he gave you credit for it (source). I don’t think it would have made much of a difference if he had taken it from phonearena.com.

        • visitor1

          shut up and get a real job, loser. At least T-Mobile has readers unlike your blog.

        • Paul

          It’s legit. He credited FierceWireless for the information and data, and in no way claims credit for it. He even provided a link to your site to show the validity of the information and data provided.
          Sorry if you didn’t want that to happen, but everything in this blog is legal and fair. Perhaps an agreement can be reached for future articles but there is nothing wrong with this article in this blog.

          I apologize for the idiots that have, and will, be rude to you. Some people can’t act like adults.

        • dkbnyc

          Mike, because a link was provided to your site, you will get more hits. We usually check the source around here. Be happy about the extra traffic coming because of this story.

        • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

          As long as your work is credited then, yes. You see, that’s how the internet works with all due respect. No need to attack.

        • BlueisTheNewMagenta

          Perhaps including the raw data was on the margin “over the top”. That said, I read the article on your site, only after reading about it here first. The verbiage was also distinct. Cam’s was T-Mobile centrist, while yours was more descriptive of the raw data.

          I was going to rag on Cam for the poor or lazy color selection in the accompanied bar charts, but alas I will not credit him with that. Happy?

          In all seriousness Mike, thank you for your contribution.

        • Dakota

          It’s PhoneDog.. What u expect

        • JBrowne1012

          This is how news gets around, are you new to technology or something? Its not illegal or anything of the sort so it is OK. He sourced you. unless he copied word for word and didn’t cite you, its not plagiarism its fair use.

      • Deadeye37

        Thank you for getting that information and posting it on your site. Because of this post, I decided to visit your site and even click on an ad. Keep up the good work. TmoNews is my primary source for T-mobile related info, but I like your site for more general news.

      • UMA_Fan

        Maybe you should have used the time taken to write that to fix the color blind charts?
        I wouldn’t want to claim credit for using the corporate brand colors of all four nationwide carriers in the wrong place if I was you.

        • Dakota

          Or Cam could have changed the colors..

      • Harmtan2

        And you got your information from Open Signal… He could have referenced them and not you. It is not your information to protect or to get upset about.

      • Enoch Cheng

        As people have mentioned, Cam gave you full credit for the information.

      • Cam Bunton

        I didn’t claim credit for any of it, I left in the information in the images claiming where it came from, mentioned you in the post and made sure to leave a link. The entire post was written to give you credit for the research. I posted it here since it shows T-Mobile in a good light. But, I’ve now edited the document, and removed two of the images.

        • Mike Dano

          Hey Cam, thanks so much for changing the post. I understand your position, and I enjoy your site.

        • Peyton

          Cam, please post any relevant T-Mobile news irrespective if it shows the company, network, etc., in a a good or bad light. I regularly read your site to be better informed, and not to feel good about all things T-Mobile.

          One thing you can improve upon that Dave seemed to neglect was report on new or upcoming feature / non-smart phones. They may not be the sexiest, but many of us have friends or family members that don’t need data devices. Obviously don’t spend too much time writing about basic phones, but if there’s anything novel or unique about a , spec, feature or design let us know. I’m particularly interested in feature phones that are HD voice capable.

          Thanks

      • yankeesusa

        Really! You need to be a little more professional. I should post the link from this site on my tech blog and put only tmonews as the source. You are really a piece of work

      • fsured

        This was the wrong way to handle the situation and makes the Executive Editor of FierceWireless appear as a whining toddler. You just called out another editor on their website for everyone to see publicly for something you think was inappropriate. If your site is having issues gaining/maintaining network traffic then the issue is not Tmonews. Tmonews actually gives your site a nod for the information and the possibility that readers may visit it for other articles. Why couldn’t you have gotten in touch with Cam Bunton outside of a forum to discuss this?

    • jose

      Excellent article @ cam keep up the great work.

      • jose

        Can the clown who always votes down what ever I have to say at least show your stupid face.

  • Ben

    I’m not sure how credible this finding is, especially since they’re not able to match the colors with that of the Carriers’. Just looking at the charts, one would assume Sprint won this one. This is great news for Magenta, though. I hope to see it in a new ad, if Magenta’s marketing department sees it as credible.

    • common sense

      sprint is not winning anything lte related considering they have the smallest lte offerings out of the major carrier buddy,

      • Ben

        Come on, use some common sense (your alias). Don’t just pick bits and pieces out of what I said, look at it in its entirety. I never said Sprint is winning anything.

      • fsured

        They are not testing network footprint. They are testing the ability of the network to communicate with your phone. This makes Sprints network a valid participant. More importantly, they are only about 20-30 LTE markets behind the total T-Mobile has. That means they actually have a large sample to pool from.

    • Dakota

      What locations were tested?

  • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

    Wow, Sprint’s service really does suck. I mean I knew it was terrible but, Latency has a huge effect on quality of Service.

    • yankeesusa

      You got that right. I have had sprint for the past 10 plus years and about 4 years ago their evdo was awesome. It never went below 2mbps. Now I can barely hit dial up speeds.

    • Spanky

      I really don’t understand how Sprint is the third largest carrier in the U.S. I’m in NYC, where Sprint’s service is absolutely horrible. I keep hearing the same about other locations as well. Their service has to work well somewhere for them to retain their customer base, right?

  • Irfan

    Shows tmobile working great its because they r using ip6 and 10x 10 …which makes ms faster

  • randomnerd_number38

    And this is with T-Mobile offering free tethering on all their data plans… Snap. Betcha Johnny is gonna be tweeting about this!

    • kalel33

      Verizon and AT&T also offer tethering with all their current plans for free. If Tmobile offered unlimited tethering then that’d be something to tweet about.

      • fsured

        Did they offer the tethering for free before T-Mobile included it or was it in response to T-Mobile? Verizon’s tethering stinks anyway. Their network does not allow tethering to continue if txt messages or a phone call comes in. It will pick back up but that brief pause from a txt message can end a download, disconnect during mobile gaming, etc. Fully agree if the offer was to double the allotted free tethering to 1gig or make it for the full data amount then it would be a fantastic option.

        • kalel33

          They offered it for free with the Share Everything Plans, which came out almost a year before the Simple Choice plans came out. You are correct it doesn’t work with talk and text going, IF you have a 3G device or an Iphone, but the Android LTE phones can do data and voice at the same time. With their plans, you can use your full data allotment for tethering.

        • yankeesusa

          That is true. My friend has the iphone lte version and he tethers all the time. He doesn’t use too much data

        • fsured

          hmm. I’ll have to chat with my friend. A few weeks back he was going to get a Verizon hotspot to use for his tablet and I asked about tethering from his phone instead to save from buying the device. He has an Iphone with LTE from Verizon and we were testing the tethering to his tablet. The same disconnections were happening when I sent him txt or test calls while my T-Mobile tethering worked perfect as I was sending him the txt/calls. I remembered data couldn’t be used on Verizon when doing calls and I didn’t know if it was fixed with LTE. Maybe his phone isn’t working properly. Thanks for the info.

        • kalel33

          Sorry, what I posted about was that the only phones that cannot do voice and data at the same time were 3G and Iphones. All other smartphones with LTE can do though. So, your friends phone is just fine, it just can’t do it.

      • yankeesusa

        Yes but they only allow tethering on the plans that require a full paycheck just to pay it off every month. Who cares if you can tether for free when you reach your data cap and have to cough up more money to get more data. Although for some familiies the new verizon plans can work very well, its the 2 or 3 line accounts that suffer.

        • kalel33

          Even on a single line, If you don’t use more than 2GB or 4GB you pay only $20 a month more than T-mobile when you do the EIP with any one of the flagship phones. It’s not as expensive as you make it out to be. Now if you buy entry level smartphones or buy the Nexus outright then there’s a big difference over the course of 2 years but if you do an EIP on the Iphone 5S, HTC One, Samsung S4 or Note then you are saving $20 a month on a single line and that number drops, per line, once you start adding more lines.

        • yankeesusa

          What company are you talking about?

        • joneski

          not really because verizon does eip now as well…

  • GinaDee

    The problem with these tests is that sites are cherry picked and it doesn’t take into consideration how many users are using the network at any given time. If random sites (some rural some in suburban.. some downtown) were used T-Mobile might have lost due to 2G only service areas.

    That said it’s nice to see T-Mobile getting better. I still give them heat though because they have areas that are all lit for LTE but there is zero backhaul and not even a web page will load.

    • Eric

      Every one of T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21/42 and LTE towers have fiber backhaul, which is one of the reasons why they launched LTE so fast and ping times are very low.

      • GinaDee

        Not sure if that is accurate. If it is then they need more backhaul.

        I can tell you that I travel everyday through a 6 mile stretch of FWY where I cannot get any data app to work (every single day for the past 3 months) and LTE is broadcasting.

        • fsured

          I have to agree about the LTE speeds in areas covered with “LTE”. The HSPA+ network where I live is better than the LTE network. It covers a wider range, offers better speeds, and gives full bars of signal where the LTE singal lights up 1 or 2. To save battery I leave my phone to connect to the more solid network and hspa technology is the more battery friendly network.

          I don’t think backhual is the issue though. The towers offering HSPA+ were all upgraded to be future proof for LTE/LTE-Advanced. Perhaps in a rush to claim so many markets live with LTE they didn’t activate all the towers but enough spread out to cover an area with LTE signal to claim it’s “live”. I’ve not seen over 22mb on my phone with LTE but regularly get 12-16mb on HSPA+ which is what I get on a good LTE signal test. Downtown I get 1-2.5mb on LTE (If the signal is able to be kept on the phone, speedtest ends with a messaging saying network communication issues) and 4-8mb on HSPA+.

        • philyew

          What’s the spectrum availability in those areas, and what has been assigned to LTE? What’s the customer density in those areas?

          Those are more likely contributing factors rather than whether there is adequate fiber backhaul.

        • joneski

          let’s just hope you weren’t driving…keep your eyes on the road! #firstworldproblems

      • LAGURL

        well eric dont know were u live but in los angeles u can be standing outside with full bars lte and get webpage unavailable ,app store wont load etc.. how to fix this is simple put phone gsm/wcdma once phone is on hspa all those problems are solved, i dnt get it why in LA tmobile lte craps out alot and when it works its slow. I was in san fransisco 2 weeks ago tmobile lte was great speeds up to 30 dwn 10 up ,now im back in La and its just sad . im always on hspa+ because if i turn on lte theres a big chance it gonna suck like always.

    • JBrowne1012

      Ok… so because your area isn’t probably where they tested you feel as if this isn’t accurate? quit being so bitter. Its a fair comparison as long as the carriers were compared in the same areas at the given time.

    • yankeesusa

      Agreed. Although in the cities where tmobile,verizon,att and sprint all have good service usually tmobile does very well. In my city all of the companies have a good presence. I have tested all of them for my tech site and so far tmobile and att are the fastest data speeds and great indoor coverage with tmobile being the better. Verizon is consistent but not as fast. Sprint, well at least you can make phone calls still!

    • WW

      If the results are cherry picked and it’s not a T-Mobile study, wouldn’t that also mean that the other carriers’ results are just as cherry picked?

  • NYCTheBronx

    Nice. Can’t wait to also hear what T-Mobile has in store for us about the LTE Advanced. Man, I haven’t yet found a good place yet in L.A. where T-Mobile’s 4GLTE is hitting anything over 7 Mbps. Back in San Jose, the max I would hit in a certain area is around 50 Mbps. And in Milpitas I get around 60+Mbps. I live on the far end of Wilshire, in between downtown and Hollywood. Anyone else here in L.A. getting anything higher than 7 Mbps? I can’t wait to get back to the Bay Area whenever I can see how the speeds are since I last left. Good job T-Mobile. Take that wall street for saying that T-Mobile would go out of business.

    • GinaDee

      It’s still spotty out here. I think if we get the 20×20 that we’re promised our speeds will get much higher. T-Mobile will have to also bump up backhaul to support these speeds long term.

      I’m hoping for better cell site densification in 2014. I’d like to see LTE… and nothing but LTE… no more fake 4G or 2G…. just LTE at least while in a major city like Los Angeles. One can hope.

    • LAGURL

      i live in montebello and work dwtwn La And yes tmobiles average speeds are 3-4dwn ,1-2 up east la its kinda slower 1-2 dwn less than1 up with full bars lte weres the faster lte speeds tmobile said lte would get??????? i used to get those speeds on hspa no wait a min on hspa i would sometimes get 10 .

      • NYCTheBronx

        Nice. I know what you mean about the speeds. I used to get 30mbps in 7th street back in San Jose and that’s on HSPA+. Whenever I don’t have LTE and fall back on HSPA+ it seems like my seekers have dropped in certain areas.

        • Adam12

          Still under 1MB here in Long Beach, TMO just started upgrading sites from copper to fiber, and you got stores selling HSPA and LTE products for the past few years that only work outside the city, what a bunch of crap.

  • bruce

    I have gotten as fast as 52 mbs on tmobile lte and most time I feel its faster than my charter at 31mbs.. go tmobile just hope it gets little better in the rural areas

  • Joe

    They just need to cover more of the US and they’ll be on top.

    • gentleman559

      Exactly.

  • Chimphappyhour

    You said Verizon and AT&T pegging. Heh. :P

  • ted

    I’m liking the frequency of posts lad

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    I have gotten as fast as 60 mbps full bars near Apple head quarters in Cupertino.

  • Sam1116

    What about data speeds in buildings tmobile. Sprint and Verizon has an advantage on this.

    • yankeesusa

      Actually verizon does not sprint. I have sprint and in almost every building my data speeds drop to almost non existent. I actually have to tether off my wifes tmobile phone to get data inside walmart or target. It’s sad really.

  • yankeesusa

    I just recently got a tmobile line for my wife just to test it out. Although tmobile needs to improve in smaller towns in my city they are awesome. I only got her an htc one s which only has hsdpa but it almost never goes below 8mbps most of the time. I just tested an xperia z with her sim card and I got 32mbps. I am getting ready to upgrade her to an lte phone so I am looking forward to that. I may be ditching my sprint service sooner rather than later.

  • Jimmy_Johansen

    The only color that makes sense is Sprint. T-Mobile has AT&T’s color, AT&T has Verizon’s and Verizon has T-Mo’s

    • 4-12

      Good work Charlie Brown! You want a cookie?

  • Singleweird

    someone was drunk when they colored this bar graph

    • Prod1702

      Just saw that nice.

  • tosh

    What’s the current frequency configuration for lte in SF Bay Area?Is it 10×10 or 5×5.I think its 10×10 because I am reaching speeds well over 36mbits.So that’s mean no upgrade on sf bay area before end of year.Maybe 20×20?

  • deng

    This comparison is nearly useless. TMO and Sprint have LTE only in metro areas and are unwilling to offer LTE or even 3g to rural areas. ATT & especially Verizon have far more rural LTE Coverage. This report averages Att and Verizon LTE speeds over all these small markets yielding a slower result. If you compare market by market, TMO doesn’t look so good. If you factor all the 2g coverage TMO has where others offer LTE, TMO looks bad.

  • H03lloe

    STFU DENG YOU MAKE NO SENSE

  • dtam

    the colors are all wrong!!!!!

  • ronjon400

    those colors are too funny……got sprint right, about it

  • Herb

    Great post, Cam. This is the type of post we love to see. You’re doing a good job!

  • LisaMoran

    So upset with T-mobile right now. I canceled At&t to save money and yes its cheaper but the service in my area is awful which i don’t understand because the coverage map says i have excellent coverage including lte. I have called t mobile and they explained that all towers are working. I went to apple and got my phone replaced. i don’t know what else to do. Anybody have any suggestions? All help is appreciated.

    • Michael

      what city do you live in?

      • LisaMoran

        I live in Springfield MA

    • Nathaniel

      Don’t blame T-Mobile. You mentioned that you had an iDevice so firstly, make sure your phone supports LTE in the first place because not all iPhones support LTE. If you feel it’s not the phone then it could be your SIM. Not all T-Mobile SIM cards support LTE(I learned this through recent experience) so make sure the SIM is right and up-to-date. Also, your phone might require some tuning. Hope this helps.

  • Al

    I have a concern because i bought the galaxy mega and is a 4G LTE ,
    BUT now what i see on the screen is H+ ? WHY IS THAT ???? ON THE MAP SAYS IM ON THE COVERAGE AREA AND WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HSPA + VS LTE W one is better ?

  • fsured

    Think of trying to accelerate a car to 60mph. The more torque/horsepower the engine has the faster you can get that car to 60 when you step on the peddle. If latency were the torque/horsepower of the network then a better value here means your computer/mobile device is communicating faster with the servers to start data transfers. A better score in latency means lower values (higher values are better in the car analogy). You can still get great LTE/HSPA+ speeds above 90. It is just taking longer for the communications to happen.