T-Mobile comes out on top in LTE latency comparison


Fierce Wireless – in partnership with OpenSignal – has published its most recent wireless network latency comparison. And just like the last one, it’s showing T-Mobile’s network in particularly favorable light. Latency – for those unaware – is a key statistic many ignore and pay no attention too, despite the fact that in real-life use, it makes a considerable difference to the network performance.

As explained by FW:

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.

OpenSignal uses data collected from more than 1 million consumer devices to offer up its data, making it true, real-life information.

Of all the major 4 U.S. carriers, T-Mobile and AT&T’s LTE networks performed best with a latency of between 75-80 milliseconds. Sprint fared the worst, with the highest latency pushing on to 100ms. Verizon was second worst of the four at 85ms.

LTE wasn’t the only network type compared. OpenSignal also compared HSPA/HSPA+, EVDO A and other 3G/4G.

As far as T-Mobile goes, it could only be compared with AT&T when it came to UMTS, HSPA and HSPA+. Its UTMS network outperformed AT&T’s significantly, boasting a latency 104ms vs. AT&T’s 128ms. Magenta’s HSPA+ network also came out on top of Big Blue’s with a latency of 112ms against AT&T’s 123ms. However, in the HSPA competition, AT&T finished top with 131ms vs. T-Mobile’s 134ms. Unsurprisingly, Verizon and Sprint’s 3G network latencies (both EVDO A and eHRPD) were slower than either of its two GSM-based competitors.

With T-Mobile continuing to roll out its super-fast wideband LTE (20+20) network this year, we can expect these latency results to improve even further, at least in the major metro areas Magenta is focussed on.

For the full report, including more graphs and charts, head on over to Fierce Wireless. (Thankfully, they opted for a magenta-colored bar for Tmo this time out.)



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  • Marcoshay

    Does anyone know which metro areas tmobile will deploy 20×20 in? Cough cough Phoenix

    • Andrew Finkenbinder

      Most of the ones where MetroPCS existed before T-Mobile bought them, and then a few others.

    • fsured

      I was trying to find a list of where MetroPCS originally offered service by city name instead of just a coverage map and found this article. If these cities are really going to have the combined spectrum in these amounts, they should for sure offer the 20×20 early on.

      http://www digitaltrends com/mobile/t-mobile-metropcs-merger-explanation/#!AtIUV

    • Paul

      I can tell you that Plano, just north of Dallas, Texas has it. I’ve clocked just shy of 125Mbps download outside my vet’s office in the morning. I average 70-75Mbps from my couch.
      I’m hoping they expand it because it’s pretty awesome to experience; 1.3Gig ROM down in less than 10 minutes.

      • besweeet

        Math check? Even at 125Mbps/16MB/s, it would take a little over 85 seconds. Unless “1.3Gig” is Gb, not GB.

        • Paul

          I have corrected the statement; the “10 seconds” should be “10 minutes.”
          Regardless, fast as h3ll.

  • Matthew James

    And let’s all be real here. I use both T-Mobile and AT&T. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ signal likes to bounce back and fourth to Edge. This isn’t because the tower hasn’t been upgraded to H+, but rather the signal can’t travel as far. AT&T has HSPA+ all over and never drops to Edge. That’s why I will always have AT&T and pay more for better service. What good is low latency when my phone bounces back and fourth from EDGE to 4G?

    • Paul

      Honestly, if you have better service with AT&T then stick with them. It really comes down to what works best for you.
      I’m not making a snide or sarcastic remark.

      • These Damn Trolls

        No, but he was. What actual non-troll comes to TmoNews just to brag about how good AT&T is in their area?

        • Fr0stTr0n

          ^ yep, that

    • UMA_Fan

      You can set your device to wcdma only in network settings which will prevent fall back to edge.

      • Matthew James

        Tried it, believe me. Then I just get the little circle with the line through it, meaning no service. T_mobile’s frequencies are just too high. I am in a rural area which is why its poor coverage.

        • KlausWillSeeYouNow

          I think the real reason you can’t get any service is because you don’t have T-Mobile at all.

    • Fabian Cortez

      The twin bells have cornered the market in sub-1GHz spectrum. They currently control 85% of it in the top 100 markets. The remaining carriers, combined, control 15%.

      If the FCC opens up the 600MHz auction as it should, watch the big two start to tremble.

      Either they’ll change their ways or you’ll see a major shift in subscriber share.

      • kalel33

        If they open up the 600MHZ auction then it’ll most likely go all to the top 2. Verizon alone made 19.8 billion dollars last quarter in profits. Them and AT&T have the money to continue cornering the market on sub-1GHz spectrum.

        • Romdude

          That’s where the FCC will come in and make sure it’s “fairer”. They won’t allow another monopoly or buying out of it like last time ever since the AT&T merger and new Sprint takeover and their desire to make the market competitive.

        • superg05

          i Urge everyone to write the fcc and ask them to deny any possibility of a sprint merger and to make the up coming 600mhz auction more fair so the evil two don’t get it all T-mobile can be a true nationwide competitor and get prices lowered on all carriers with true competition and a sliding spectrum screen may even open up the market for new players

          To Contact the Commissioners via E-mail

          Chairman Tom Wheeler: Tom.Wheeler@fcc.gov
          Commissioner Mignon Clyburn: Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov
          Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel: Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov
          Commissioner Ajit Pai: Ajit.Pai@fcc.gov
          Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov

        • Fabian Cortez

          Maybe my “as it should” portion of my comment wasn’t clear.

          I guess I should have used “fairer” or Sprint’s or T-Mobile’s proposition.

          Leaving it up to the twin bells would [obviously] be detrimental.

    • Svengalis

      yeah or no service at all. att is everywhere. i do use straight talk though as you can get deals on their service online on ebay sometimes. got some $37 month cards for unlimited everything.

  • besweeet

    Latency has been suffering in San Antonio for over a month, as are sustained download speeds. Pings used to consistently be between 28 and 38. Now, always above 50. Not a big deal, but download speeds are starting fast, but quickly slow way down. Upload speed is overall weaker than usual too.

    • fsured

      Perhaps another round of tower upgrades are happening there. SA is to be covered in under the 700mhz purchase and even though it isn’t complete, whats to stop them from upgrading the hardware early to make that roll out faster? Once the licenses and final approvals are done they just need make the final adjustments with added spectrum. My theory at least.

      My experience in Austin when I notice network issues it is has been followed with better quality after. I saw it with the initial upgrade to HSPA+, then the refarm, initial LTE roll out, and again a few months back. I’m getting more solid LTE in more areas now.

      • besweeet

        I hope so. Things were pretty solid until this started happening. Everything continues to work, which is all that ultimately matters to me.

  • spartanjet

    I’d like Tmo to come out on top for Windows 8.1 phones is what I really care about.

    • gperez

      Me too and Windows Tablet

      • fentonr

        I completely agree. I’m disappointed with their lack of support for windows phones and tablets so far.

        • chuey101

          actually of all phones lumia 925 ain’t bad. a 1020 would be even better tho. Let’s see what 8.1 phones they come out with…

  • sushimane

    tmobile is doing work near my house. i live in inman,south carolina majority of last year i only got 2 bars of lte and get atleast 30mbps or more but now i got 3 bars of lte and getting 45mbps which is crazy. love being with tmobile

    • Jay J. Blanco

      Where is that??

      • sushimane

        inman south carolina. im surprise as much as u to be able to get 40mpbs and up in south carolina.

        • Ruckis

          Lot of industry and foreign companies in that area. Cellular infrastructure encourages investment in the South. Because overbearing taxes and the Unions in the north, industry is coming South, T mobile is slso very strong in the Grand Strand area of SC because of Tourism.

      • Bori

        Northwest of Greenville I believe, close to the border with NC.

        • sushimane

          Do u live by?

        • Bori

          I wish! Lol. No, but I drive down to Columbia often to visit family and always see the signs off of I-26. I’m in Cincinnati (which has Zero LTE).

        • sushimane

          damn that sucks. do u atleast have hspa+42 that’s pretty fast when i was in Massachusetts i switch from hspa+42 and lte. lte is spotty over there but im waiting for the whole integration of metropcs network into tmobile in 2015

        • Bori

          No unfortunately Cincinnati is a city with limited spectrum, Cincinnati Bell has hogged up most of the necessary spectrum here so we’ve had to settle for Hspa+21 in several areas is pretty good, but nothing like hspa+42 (as in MA, which is quite nice) .

        • sushimane

          Yeah sorry T-Mobile would figure out sum thing.

        • Bori

          We fell into one of the markets with the 700mhz license they purchased from VZW so we will eventually come on top by the the end of next year at least.

        • Nick

          Actually, they’ve started to turn on LTE in Cincinnati. I’m more towards Middletown but it’s definitely on here. However, as you get closer to the city it does drop down to HSPA+.

        • Bori

          Yeah I know, I was referring more to Hamilton County specifically downtown Cincinnati . The farthest south I’ve seen it is Hwy4 and I-275. But that’s 15 plus miles north of downtown Cincinnati, but Cinci proper does not have lte. But hey I’m hoping this the beginning : -). I’m keeping my Sensorly App active every time I’m out and about.

        • Nick

          Yeah, I love using sensorly to map my trips and update the coverage map. So far it has been very accurate. Hopefully they’ll make the LTE a little faster, as I average about 10mbps which is the same if not slower than HSPA+ here. Oh well, it’s a good start.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          It’s outside of Spartanburg, SC.
          I get around 20 to 25MBps In Columbia, SC

        • Bori

          Yeah, NW of Greenville. At any rate my sister lives in Red Bank and they are still in 2G land, but I told her to hang in there, hopefully the area will be in one of those that will convert to Lte soon.

        • sushimane

          Yeah hopefully.

        • Jay J. Blanco

          I believe the real reason Sprint is pursuing tmobile because T-Mobile is robbing Sprint of its customers left and right. And once lte network is complete Sprint is in big trouble

        • Bori

          They are already in trouble and I hope it gets worse for them, I hate Sprint lol

        • Jay J. Blanco

          I hate them too lol

  • mingkee

    A recent trip tp VA/DC and found T-Mobile has improved a lot.
    Now T-Mobile LTE is everywhere in Woodbridge and Alexandia, and Union Station has no dead spots for LTE.
    In addition, LTE performance is improved. Getting 20Mbps is pretty usual now.

    • Vishnu Persaud

      Yes, you are right T-mobile speeds are phenomenal in Alexandria. I get 30mbps download on average and it rivals my Verizon FiOS speeds sometimes.

  • Noah James

    I was enjoying decent download In zip code (29485) on both HSPA & LTE. that was until a 3 days ago, now on LTE my upload (usually 9 is faster than my download wherever I go.) HSPA 1.2 ( usually 9-13) Now going to a store they said that they are doing ” upgrades” I ask on what.( thinking about the fact we already have LTE.) So she said “LTE.” Could I not get a bit more information like 20*20 or whatever? I mean data service has become so slow I go in and all I get is that?

    • T mobile Rep

      Stop complaining, they’re only trying to make your experience better…those of us in store are given no information about network upgrades. Just wait a week, have some patience, and your service will improve…

      • Noah James

        I’m not saying they aren’t making the network experience better, Its in the mean time it is nearly unusable. “If ‘those of us in the store are given no information about network upgrades.’ don’t you think they should not give out false information? yeah I probably should have waited a few more days to come in here… But what I was looking for was info on what upgrades are they doing, because all I got was “LTE” from the store rep. I can tell that much.

      • Matt

        If you are given no information then don’t invent and don’t lie.

  • LordDork

    I love TMO, I would love them more if I can bring my other 5 lines from Verizon to TMO (I have total of 10 lines, 5 with TMO and 5 with Verizon)

  • TechHog

    So you’re not going to correct the other article? Your iPhone fanboy side is showing.

  • Matt

    It’s a shame that you’ve nothing to contribute to the discussion.

    • krym73

      Nice try PhoneDog, but i won’t stop till We get someone running this site whom at least lives in the U.S and/or uses their services.Rather than some iphone fanboy whom gives 2 shits about t mobile or anyother phone than the isheep.Cam you seem like a nice person but honestly your doing a bad job at running this site, which makes me mad to see you killing this site just like Tip.

      • philyew

        Please provide links to a couple of articles elsewhere for TM-related topics that haven’t been covered here. I’m curious to know what issues are being missed.

        • ccnet005

          Try googling “deutsche telekom ceo” , “deutsche telekom tmobile”,
          or any number of terms.

        • philyew

          What, you mean Tim Hoetgges confirming what we’ve know forever; that TM can’t compete with AT&T and Verizon in industry auctions unless the rules are changed?

          His point merely reiterates a statement by Kathleen Ham (TM’s VP of Federal Regulatory Affairs) which was reported in detail here back in January.


  • Fr0stTr0n

    I really wish T-Mo would get some damn towers up in Montana so I have some coverage when I go visit family instead of backup provider 2G, ung…

  • Aurizen

    wow, this shows how much potential t-mobile has, it just needs to expand coverage more and get the in building penetration, and we have a contender.

  • Alan

    So not much difference between the carriers then.

  • Svengalis

    i dont know if it the users on straight talk att but i experience extremely high latency on att straight talk, compared to tmobile it wasnt nearly as high. im usually in the 100+ range, its annoying to have web pages just hang when you get getting 10MB+ connections.