Fastest Mobile Networks 2014 results are out, T-Mo LTE finishes 2nd

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Over the past few weeks, PCMag – in partnership with Sensorly, TmoNews and a handful of other publications – has been collecting all kinds of network, carrier and handset data from across the U.S. And you’ll be pleased to know that – overall – T-Mobile scored very well. Particularly in LTE and 3G (4G HSPA) speed tests. As well as collecting data from real users, like yourselves, PCMag sent out three cars to 30 cities and performed extensive testing.

This year, we used LG G2 phones for seven of the networks we tested, all but the old Verizon CDMA network. Since the Verizon LG G2 cannot be set to CDMA-only mode, we had to use LG Vortex phones for that network.

We loaded the phones into three Ford C-Max hybrid cars, equipped with power inverters to run the phones all day long.

Sensorly’s 2014 software ran several tests every three minutes: a ping to test network latency, multi-threaded HTTP upload and download tests including separate “time-to-first-byte” measures, and the download of a 1MB Web page with 70 elements.

Before we get to the results, it’s worth looking at how they’re calculated. As has been the case previously, the speed score is a weighted average: 70% speed and 30% reliability. T-Mobile scored really well nationwide, and could have done better if it covered more areas outside the major cities. As noted:

“T-Mobile was this year’s big surprise. Last year, the company hardly had any LTE at all—this year, it covered all 30 of our test cities. If we never ventured out of those cities, it would’ve even been the winner. T-Mobile’s metro-area network gets high marks for consistently delivering LTE-class speeds; we got downloads over 5Mbps more often on T-Mobile than on any other network. It can deliver peak speeds, too. With more than 20,000 crowdsourced tests, we saw maximum speeds of about 100Mbps and more than 2,800 tests above 50Mbps.”

Overall then, T-Mobile finished 2nd nationally with a score of 85/100 for its LTE network. Its average download speed was 16.8Mbps, and an average upload speed of 9.7Mbps. It only scored lower than Verizon for downloads, and is the fastest network for uploading finishing just above “Big Red”, which scored an average 9.3Mbps.

If we were just looking at 3G networks (HSPA/HSPA+), T-Mobile would be top of the pile, and quite convincingly. With an average speed of 8.6Mbps, T-Mo’s network was faster on average than Sprint’s LTE. It finished with a score of 65/100. The story was similar when broken down in to regional chunks too. Verizon was best in all regions, except North West, in which it tied with T-Mobile.

T-Mobile did fairly well in customer satisfaction too. At least, when compared to the other 3 big carriers. However, all major four carriers finished some distance behind the smaller network operators. Consumer Cellular finishing top for satisfaction, with a score of 8.7.


For a full breakdown, and a look at the interactive map, be sure to check out the original in-depth report over at It’s certainly worth a read, and shows just how much T-Mo’s LTE network has improved in just over a year.

Source: PCMag

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  • monkeybutts

    Wow sprint got a 49/100 in my area RIP speeds after merger.

    edit: looking at wrong number 29/100

    • Evan Lam

      Haha, thats even worse! I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what city are you in?

    • Sprint got hammered there because our Sprint phone kept dropping to CDMA.

      • milanyc

        Sprint’s been having eCSFB issues with their network. But that’s a part of users experience as well, and you’ve captured it in your tests.

        Interestingly enough, for this article you haven’t sampled North Dallas ares where T-Mobile has clusters of 20MHz FDD commercial sites, all running CL-SM with 4×2 MIMO. Peak rates are over 140Mbps.

  • Paul Garrison

    Please tell me again why this merger is needed.

    • Matthew James

      So Sprint can survive. That’s the only reason. Pretty ridiculous right?

    • fsured

      I don’t think this merger is needed and fully agree with you. Sure DT wants out and Son is showing them the money to make it happen. But I don’t think it’s needed for T-Mobile to remain in business. It’s in Sprints deep favor to have the merger and is needed for Sprint to remain viable. But in the end the money talks and DT, investors of T-Mobile US, and Sprint-Softbank want/see that $$$ dangling in front of them.

      I see this in a similar situation to what I saw with what AT&T attempted to do. T-Mobile had a more advanced GSM network than what AT&T had in place. It was also under utilized since it didn’t have as many customers. It would have saved them time and money in hardware/tower work by folding in the T-Mobile network and instantly boosting AT&T’s capacity for their customers. They were picking up heavy slack since the Iphone was showing the decrepit state of their network. All the dropped calls, slow data connections, and even Apple calling them out on it was a huge blemish on AT&T. It put them in rush mode to fix things and T-Mobile’s network would have eased the pressure as they launched LTE.

      Now Sprint is in a situation where their network is just in gutter. They are tossing billions to try and fix it with a result that it can’t even compete with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 3g technology. They can take T-Mobile’s network and almost instantly boost their network. The technology is already in place to appease their customer complaints about the Sprint network. All they would need to start doing is move customers off Sprint’s network to deliver better service while they “upgrade” (we know how well they do that) both networks to work as one. They would also need to tweak whatever hardware T-Mobile has on the towers to work with whatever spectrum signals the combined company would be utilizing. That is why I say almost instantly boost their network. But it sure as hell will shore things up with their customer complaints faster.

      On a side note, T-Mobile could take HSPA+ much further than where it is
      now if they wanted to. A quick Wiki search mentions 168mb theoretical download speeds
      but I’ve seen other articles mentioning it going much higher if fully
      built out. Now that would be one hell of a 3g network. I get much stronger signal on HSPA+ than I do on LTE. I also see more battery life since the phone isn’t working as hard to maintain that 1 bar of LTE inside buildings where I get 4 bars on the 3g network. I think that would be a great backup to compliment LTE in areas that are too costly to deploy LTE and even in urban/city areas.

    • IHateSprint

      Why is everyone agaisnt the merger? I hate sprint (they only get 3G in my city, an area covered by the other 3 with LTE) And if this merger goes through Legere the brilliant CEO of tmobile will become president of it, not Hesse the CEO of shit.. err sprint. The merger is the only way t mobile can survive and compete with the other two networks, it’s HSPA and LTE are fast, and it’s using 4×2 mimo for some of those metropolitan issues however it’s burning through money and Verizon and AT&T sadly are crushing it. Sprint and tmobile users use a higher amount of data and combine the networks you’ll get a better network, a better competitor, lower prices, and faster data.

  • Verizonthunder

    This score will change with T-Mobile completing their edge to LTE tower upgrade, and implement the purchased 700mhz from Verizon

    • SEBA

      I don’t know about this. Verizon is upgrading to 40MHz while we are upgrading to 20MHz and at the same time gaining more new customers to congest our network.

      • Verizonthunder

        I live where T-Mobile is heavily saturated in LTE my speed tests on my lunch break with Verizon was barely 1mbps download and T-Mobile 22mbps download and love the quality I am receiving.

        • SEBA

          Me too… I run speed tests with friends from verizon and att to compare results and never saw 1 result that was higher then tmobile.

        • Verizonthunder

          I rub it in my friends face that I can roam internationally for $0.20 a minute and unlimited text and data, he can only roam in Canada for text only. T-Mobile way better than Verizon for travel

        • Eric

          And 4G data abroad doesn’t cost as much as what the other guys charge. :D

        • Verizonthunder

          Oh hell yes to that, only two options affordable /T-Mobile or bankruptcy other carriers

        • guest

          Except the fact that when you leave a metro area you’re stuck on edge if you’re lucky.

        • LTE in hick-town.

          Funny how your “facts” … aren’t.

        • kalel33

          Bad thing is that they can use data across the country, even roaming on other’s towers with data but T-mobile is hard capped at 50MB of data roaming, which is the majority of the US coverage for them.

          Verizon has a plan with 1000 minutes of roaming/long distance in Canada or Mexico for $15 more a month on a plan, not per line.

        • Verizonthunder

          Read my comment I was talking about international travel

        • kalel33

          I know what you were talking about, but the average consumer would rather have domestic data roaming than international data roaming. Nothing is more frustrating when an hour in a drive your data is cut off and won’t return until you get back on T-mobile’s towers. That doesn’t happen with any other carrier and used to not happen with T-mobile.

        • Maximus

          How is TMO doing with building penetration now? Has that improved? Do you have any issues with that?

        • wificaller

          That’s why tmo allows wifi calls.
          Lots of issues with tmo dropped calls

        • Verizonthunder

          No problems here

        • Dropped what?

          Never had one in the year and a half I’ve been on TMO. What’s it like?

        • Verizonthunder

          No issues especially if you have a reliable high end smartphone. Rocking the LG g flex

        • SEBA

          When it comes to calls, no issues. When it comes to internet 100 miles drive in any direction will put you on Edge. Today and yesterday I had a lot of drop calls. It looks that VoLTE is not working for calls very good. Each time you go from LTE to 4G it drops the call. Maybe it’s not fully ready yet.

        • Verizonthunder

          I stream Pandora built into my car receiver with edge in the valley with no problem high quality audio too

        • that’s a lot of bull there…

          “When it comes to internet 100 miles drive in any direction will put you on Edge. ”

          Does lying help you get through the day?

          While it may be true where you are, it certainly ain’t here in Central MN. Haven’t had a dropped call in 18 months.

        • SEBA

          You haven’t had VoLTE call either. I don’t think Philadelphia is small market either. Yes, we do get on Edge outside city. Yes, VoLTE calls are being dropped when changing the zones from LTE to 4G or Edge.

        • Evan Lam

          I can’t speak about this in terms of personal experience because I still have the S3 running on HSPA+, but once T-Mobile starts to use the spectrum that they bought from Verizon, building penetration will improve, given that you have a phone that can run on that spectrum and the upgrades occur in your area.

        • Maximus

          So you have experienced issues inside of buildings/homes?

        • Evan Lam

          Again, I’m still on HSPA+ but I only have issues inside of my school, but even my friends on Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon have issues with reception in that area of the school

        • qpinto

          lets just say it has improved drastically if you are in an area with the refarm and the new 20mhz for lte is really fast. i used to have a signal repeater in my house and i actually returned it as it was unnecessary anymore. wifi calling works while im at school in those old buildings where no one else gets signal except for those of use with wifi calling

    • kalel33

      They don’t have the towers to do it……yet. Also, the 700mhz was only for certain areas. You can go back and look at the article. It wasn’t covering too much area.

      • Verizonthunder

        I am fully aware of that, when they do it will be beneficial and what’s not to say it could ever be expanded

        • kalel33

          It can’t be expanded. They bought spectrum for that specific area. Someone else holds the same spectrum in different parts of the country. If they want to expand then they have to buy spectrum licenses in areas where they currently don’t have service and that means a lot of money on spectrum, towers, and back haul.

  • Jeffrey Wang

    Wow, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ is off the charts compared to any other. If there was a nationwide 3G winner T-Mobile would be #1 without question.

    • bkin94

      Verizon’s maps would definitely be different if they were “places with >5Mbps” instead of “places with LTE”. VZ would still probably have more coverage, but it definitely wouldn’t be as extreme as the maps used in their commercials.

  • Deadeye37

    Its sad that T-mobile’s 3G network is faster than Sprints LTE (on average). That would be a lot of dead weight if T-mo merged with Sprint.

    • eanfoso

      Not compared to spark

      • JJCommonSense

        Um.. spark bark… I work in a retail cell location and spark is the worst! Weve had to have people switch their phone to CDMA only just to be able to receive calls and check their email!. Maybe it was an outage that day but even when its working theres only 1-2 bars of coverage.. when I can do a speedtest on TMO and get 30mbs lte speed easy!

        • Bryce

          Spark is in reference to Band 41, not whatever you were on. On Spark I’ve pulled 22Mbps with a -115dbm signal. I’ve received peak speeds of 66Mbps. Some of my friends have received speeds of 75Mbps with bursts of up to 81Mbps. The only problem is coverage or basically getting it out to everyone.

          I’ve been tracking the rollout and it is going wayyy faster than anticipated.

        • vrm

          not sure what you pulled where but here you are always trying to pull a fast one.

        • Bryce

          Not really. I don’t post here frequently.

  • Paul

    Aaaahhhhh, maybe now T-MoUSA can tell SofBank that the price has changed…maybe.

  • omnirep

    Give these guys credit. One year from the start of LTE they smoked ATT and Sprint. Can’t wait till they start using that spectrum from Verizon.

    • fsured

      I was in a T-Mobile store with a friend as he signed up for new service and was explaining to him that no matter what phone he gets now, he will want to trade it in later for one that works on the new spectrum. If he doesn’t want to spend the money on a high end phone then don’t because it won’t pick up the new signal.

      The store rep was downplaying me saying the 700mhz signal will be used for voice and not data so it doesn’t matter if the phone can pick up the signal. I was just thinking in my head…what??? I never heard that before and think it was BS. Even if it’s just voice signal that uses it, my friend and everyone else will still want a phone that will get signal inside buildings or out of the urban areas to make calls.

      • bob90210

        Does T-Mobile have commission or quotas for phone sales? Because it definitely sounds like the rep was trying to upsell the expensive phone.

        • kalel33

          All carrier stores have quotas.

      • Why were you taking away from the store reps money? Sit back and let the rep do HIS JOB! If your friend wants a new device when the new spectrum rolls out, let him do him.
        You’re ok to discuss this and that with your friend, and attempt to educate, but to get involved in sales talk when you don’t even work @ the company……
        If your friend wants a top of the line device now, why take his joy away?

        • fsured

          Chill MrDivaNYC. I told my friend all the advice he asked for before even going into the store. He had T-Mobile years ago when the service wasn’t what it was today. I explained thier network upgrades and what the 700mhz will do the area we live in. It was my friend who even mentioned the spectrum later in the year to the sales person and was saying he didn’t want a high end device.

          I was reassuring him that he wasn’t being a cheap person for not wanting a high end device and it would later not work with the new signal even if he did get one. I also explained that if he bought one he can always jump to a new phone when the handsets capable of receiving 700mhz signal are sold. All of this occured before ever walking into the store. I let the sales rep do his job and was looking at the Xperia Z1 in person as a possible upgrade for myself. It’s not my fault if they put all the Android phones in the store in one spot and I can hear the conversation. Notice I said I was thinking in my head.

          I also have a coworker who was pressured into buying a Nexus and now she hates that it isn’t as easy to use. She is a person who has no problem with an OEM interface over Android. If the sales person would have done their job she would be a happy customer. I’m the one that isntalled the applications to get the phone running the way she wants it. Sales people are sales people regardless of what company they work for. If they make comission then yes they want the customer to buy the expsnesive ones. Customers may not want to buy what ever is hot and being pushed in promotions and shouldn’t feel pressured to.

      • besweeet

        Their 700A spectrum, as far as I know, is planning on being used solely for LTE, which shouldn’t be a problem with calls thanks to VoLTE starting to show up.

  • Joel

    T-Mobile LTE is the winner in Portland! Def notice this and even when I loose LTE I get HSPA speeds faster than Verizon LTE on average

  • bkin94

    I’m kinda glad to see that the coverage here in Ohio is below par. If this was the norm for them, I’d be worried. I live in Miamisburg near dayton where i get minimal LTE speeds everywhere except my house (where i’m lucky to get 3G). I go to school in Mount vernon, north of Columbus and I get E outdoors, and no coverage indoors. Hopefully an ohio explosion of coverage happens soon!

    • JJCommonSense

      If u get poor service in your home u can call TMO customer service and they can send u a cel-fi signal booster. .. I just got mine today and will plug it in as soon as this train gets me home!

      • Tylerderk

        Just use your t-mobile Wifi calling no booster necessary.

        • Zexel

          WiFi calling is glitchy with MMS so I leave it turned off if I have coverage.

        • JJCommonSense

          Wifi calling doesn’t always provide me with the best coverage… plus if im on a call and leave the house the call drops.. with the Cel-Fi it hands the call off to a regular tower

    • Laststop311

      well the cleveland area north east ohio doesn’t have these problems. I get great LTE speed

  • KO

    Totally unscientific of course, but I just got a Moto G LTE yesterday, and here at my office where I know there is a decent TMo backhaul, Speedtest got 34/22 which seems pretty good to me.

  • samagon

    And anyone wonders why people don’t like the idea of a Sprint/Tmo merger?

    • guest

      Exactly… It’s not about 2 cdma vs gem which is BS since lte is gsm based tech. It’s because sprint sucks and their coverage won’t improve tmobile’s current network at all. It may cripple it in fact…

      • Zexel

        As much as I would like to see another CDMA company die/switch to full GSM I don’t think Sprint and T-mobile mergering is the best way for that to happen…

    • envious684

      The thing is though sprint did better in reliability than at&t their only problem is their speed. They have backhaul problems.

  • envious684

    Good read thanks for posting this . also shows t mobile has the fastest 3G network too. When 2G gets converted to LTE I think T-Mobile may be able to take the crown .

  • Aaron Davis

    Cell Phone companies don’t actually set up thier own towers. They contract out for this, and I have worked for two different contractors as a cell test technician, for the HSDPA+ upgrade on T-Mobile, and for some tower replacements on at&t

    The way they tested the networks, by driving around with a set of phones constantly running tests, Is the EXACT same way that the cell companies themselves test their networks during a new network install.

    • SEBA

      We have new friend! Welcome. Can you tell me if there is a visual way to tell which one is Tmobile tower?

      • Aaron Davis

        All cell towers look pretty much the same, you can’t tell just by looking at them.

        If it’s a tower out in the middle of nowhere, there will usually be a sign on the fence around it saying who it belongs to. Towers inside a city are usually on top of buildings (smokestacks are popular) but you would have to get on the roof to see the name plate.

        The only other way would be to use something like or the FCC’s database at to look at the location.

        Both methods will only tell you who owns the tower, not necessarily which network is actually using it (or if it is still active)

  • edge2edge blues

    pc mag stayed within city limits of memphis (my stomping grounds)…go just a few miles north, south, east or west and that “fast” t-mobile coverage drops to crappy edge super quick. speed is nothing without coverage…

    • Yuri

      I have noticed a problem with T-Mobiles network, sometimes it will say your getting 2G even though there is LTE/4G available, it just prefers the 2G because it has a stronger connection. By turning on WCDMA only in the network settings I almost always keep 4g/lte outside city limits and it is literally 10x-50x faster than the 2G everywhere I have tried it.

    • Justin747

      No carrier is perfect.

      The almighty Verizon has DEAD spots in very populous parts of LA. And by DEAD I mean zero coverage at all. These spots aren’t in the mountains or anything. There is a strip mall in a very upscale neighborhood with TERRIBLE Verizon coverage.

  • Alex Zapata

    Not too bad Magenta, not bad at all :-)

  • Drew

    I see no reason for me to merge with Sprint or use Vzw or at&t… And my data is unlimited. On the average I use close to 10GB/month…

  • Zexel

    T-Mobile will have better coverage/speeds than Verizon in areas where they can use 700mhz soon.

    • bucdenny

      So-Cal won’t see anything until at least 2016. Channel 51 interference. Now you know why Verizon has done anything with it.

  • Jeremiah McCurry

    Just think of how much better coverage and speed will get when T-Mobile has all of the Sprint spectrum at their disposal. ;)

    • Zexel

      Sprints 800mhz LTE would help T-Mobile in a lot of areas.

      • DDLAR

        That’s true. But, it’s only 12Mhz. And, it’s a non-standard frequency, which means that it’s not easy to get phone makers to support it.

        • bucdenny

          Non standard? Imagine when Verizon starting using Cellular 850mhz for LTE. It falls in Band 26. Only 12Mhz? Enough for 5x5Mhz and 1xAdvance Voice. That is plenty for indoors with max 37.5Mbps speeds. And it is near damn nationwide. There is a reason Sprint is building heavily on TDD to offload the 5×5 Band 26 and Band 25.

    • maximus1901

      And how much higher prices will be when they have one less competitor.

  • Derrick

    I am a AT&T subscriber and I applaud T-Mobile for coming in second. I tried T-Mobile but they did not suit me needs cause I travel here and there so I took my phone over to AT&T. Even though I have a 15gb plan I pay maybe $20 more which is not ba. I would like to try T-Mobile again but only when they have some type of data coverage outside city limits. As far as Sprint goes hey I would like to give them credit too. Though their LTE is slower than everyone else’s. It’s still usage. My brother has sprint and his phone is very usable. The average consumer will not really notice a few seconds delay. They just want to know if they can get on Facebook, Instagram and pandora. But they have too come a long way. But at the end of day all four networks are good but it boils down to personal taste.

    • IHateSprint

      T-mobile is implementing something called “4×2 mimo” So the out of city roaming problem should be fixed in the next year or two. You can read more about it here:

    • Spanky

      T-Mobile also has the building penetration problem, which is an 800 lb. gorilla. I observed this in NYC at College of Staten Island and a school building in the Bronx. On both occasions, T-Mobile lost service immediately upon walking into a building, whereas AT&T and Verizon remained on 2-3 bars with full LTE. Fast data is nice – kudos T-Mobile for stepping up their LTE rollout. However, it becomes a moot point when the users can’t get signal.

      • monkeybutts

        I have lost signal once in my area. I was in a hospital waiting room right next to the window and still couldn’t get service, I told T-mobile about it, but haven’t had to go to that wing of the hospital where I completely dropped to see if they fixed that or not.

      • mingkee

        NYC has band 12 covered, so we’ll see signal improvement over time.

      • Aaron Davis

        Having your signal disappear as soon as you walk into a building is a direct consequence of t-mobile not owning any low frequency licenses (until very recently).

        at&t and verizon, on the other hand, have tons of low frequency licenses, which is great for building penetration. It’s also great for range, which means that they can install all of their towers much farther apart covering more land with the same number of towers (this is how verizon can blanket the country so easily).

        at&t and verizon aren’t stupid, and they know that the one thing customers really care about is coverage. They realized long ago that having as much of the low frequency pie as possible (and making sure t-mobile has none at all) would give them a huge competitive advantage, an advantage that verizon still flogs in every single one of their commercials.

        Low frequency does have it’s downsides though. Having fewer towers in a given area means that there are more customers per tower, and in some areas this has overloaded the tower to the point where voice calls don’t even work all the time. High frequency towers in high density areas would be a simple and easy fix for the problem, but ironically, verizon’s low-frequency obsession caused them to skip out on all the high frequency auctions, so now they have have none to deploy (until very recently).

        • maximus1901

          TMO can choose to deploy to more towers to overcome the inbuilging issue.

        • Aaron Davis

          It doesn’t have anything to do with the number of towers. Higher frequencies are simply less able to pass though steel and concrete. (and air as well, which is why they have a shorter range)

          There are only 3 ways for t-mobile to fix the indoor signal. They can install their own full-size tower INSIDE the building, which all 4 carriers have done inside the Mall of America for example. They can convince the customer or building owner to install a microcell or signal booster, which they give away for free. Or you can simply wait for them to finish rolling out the 700mhz license that they finally pried out of verizon’s iron grip, thanks to the FCC (the rollout should be done by the end of 2014)

          They are already doing everything they possibly can now. Building penetration is something that was simply out of their hands until recently (no thanks to verizon and at&t)

        • philyew

          Maximus does have a point; more towers in the area will increase the chances that the signal strength local to an affected building will suffer less degredation and be greater, with the resulting in-building signal being proportionately higher also.

          Of course, low frequency spectrum suffers less from attenuation, but if you can increase your signal strength as it reaches the building, everything else being equal, you should get a better indoor signal.

  • smh Sprint

  • DirkDigg1er

    It seems like Sprint LTE speed has doubled since last year. Also Tmo has slowed down slightly. It must be from all those new customers lol.

    • mikey

      More likely the upgrades, I always notice massive slowdowns right before an upgrade. Had network issues for a few weeks before lte went live, then again a few weeks ago before volte popped up in my area.

  • Jack Paschke

    I live in Fort Collins and these tests are surprisingly accurate. I have been seeing T-Mobile speeds of 50+ Mb consistently. I also live in T-Mobile’s new 700mhz licence area, so things are only going to get better in the next year. It amazes me that my phone is now cheaper and faster than my Comcast cable. How ridiculous is that? It is impressive how par T-Mobile’s network leaped in just one year. Sprint is really starting to seem like a joke. they “doubled” speed from ~5Mb to ~10Mb. I hope that spectrum gets used productively at some point.

    • ElMessiah

      It’s been more than a decade since I left Sprint exactly because it was a shitty network, amazing the fact prove just how poorly run that company still is. Serious question, are they good at anything having to do with voice or data?

  • guidomus_maximus

    Fastest web download speed in every region

    • maximus1901

      Except outside the city limits as the study stated.

  • GinaDee

    Consumer Cellular and Straight Talk mainly use AT&T. Go figure?

    • monkeybutts

      And they are cheaper than most providers. Cheap sometimes justifies shitty service for some people.

    • jefski

      Straight talk uses both att and vz.each box will say either gsm or cdma

  • Poor Sprint


    It really seems like Sprint is in a bind. The evidence I’ve seen lately suggests that their business model depended heavily on roaming agreements. Unfortunately, roaming doesn’t really work well for data. And data is what is driving the industry today.
    This has left Sprint with a poor network and no quick and easy way to upgrade. This is probably the big driver behind their attempted acquisition of T-Mobile. That is, they probably believe that they can save the business by merging their LTE network with T-Mobile’s. Then they could concentrate on building out in areas that T-Mobile does not already cover.
    The problem with all of this is that Sprint doesn’t bring much to the table. Their current coverage adds very little to what T-Mobile already covers. Their spectrum is mostly “boutique” frequencies, which means a fairly large effort to join the networks. Merging the voice networks is almost impossible. So, they’ll have to live with both CDMA and GSM for quite a while.

    • vrm

      sprint acquiring t-mobile is a (misguided) last ditch attempt to save itself. Of course, any independent entity can see that that will never work due to the reasons you stated plus 1) Sprint’s performance as a co. has lately been lacklustre to put it mildly 2) They have not been able to assimilate much smaller companies than t-mobile successfully 3) much, much more.

      • Roger Sales

        Sprint’s performance has more to do with their poor launches than anything. LTE is far from nationwide, network vision is more like network without a vision. I don’t understand why LTE is so patchy when they have not 1, not 2, but 3 different bands to use(and one which is entirely vacated).

        • bucdenny

          37000 of 39000 sites already has Network Vision upgrades. It is only waiting on fiber back-hauls from local ISP for each location to fire up LTE. Now, your comparing to T-Mobile where fiber back-hauls were in place for HSPA. T-Mobile simply installed new antenna’s on all HSPA sites and fired up LTE. If Sprint had fiber to each site long ago like T-Mobile, there wouldn’t be a comparison today because 37000 of 39000 sites would have LTE and that is near 270 million POPs.

          It has nothing to do with poor launches because NV is near 95% completed, they are on the mercy of local back-haul providers such at AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Century Link, Comcast which is out of Sprint’s control. If AT&T wanted to drag their feet up to 1 year just to deliver fiber to a site, imagine what it takes to do it on all 39000 sites.

          (real world experience from AT&T in San Diego to deliver fiber to customer. fiber was available at the street level, but took 1 year to have it delivered)

        • Roger Sales

          In my area that isn’t the issue – it just does or doesn’t work. In a metropolitan of 19 million people it shows up in some places and doesn’t in a lot of others. Union City, West New York, you don’t get anything till you start walking towards Boulevard East. It’s like T-Mobile’s LTE back in summer of 2013 when it just came. Only Sprints LTE has supposedly been here for months.

    • DirkDigg1er

      That is a good point of view however I believe Sprint will be in good shape by next year with Softbank’s $16 billion and $6 billion annually investments and resources.

    • maximus1901

      Don’t bring much to table? How about 120-160MHz of Tdd spectrum that has been used by SoftBank in Japan and will be used in China.
      In Their 3:2 config, that’s the equivalent of 0.6x(120, 160) = (72, 96) MHz of downlink capacity.

      • Roger Sales

        That spectrum means a lot to Sprint – T-Mobile doesn’t really need more high band spectrum. I mean yeah, it has a frequency in common with Japan – but multi-band LTE phones are kind of the future(and if they weren’t, Apple has pretty much forced everyone else’s hand with their global LTE support)

        • DirkDigg1er

          TDD will come in handy over the next couple of years. Tmo will finally unlock those speeds to unmatchable levels.

        • bucdenny

          Especially Sprint has committed to deploying 8T8R antenna’s to ALL Sprint coverage. It can do much more than existing T-Mobile 20x20Mhz setup in the long term. T-Mobile 20x20Mhz will bog down in the future.

        • bucdenny

          T-Mobile does not need more? Once their 20x20Mhz bogs down, now what? You will need more.

        • Roger Sales

          A) T-Mobile owns a lot more than 40 mhz on average in every market(about 80mhz on average total to my understanding) all of that is mid-band spectrum which is great for capacity when more and more is shifted into LTE as it becomes necessary.
          B) The spectrum they do want and really need is in a lower frequency like in the 600 mhz auction that’s coming up, they can focus on being on better indoor coverage, and reliability outside of cities. Sprint does not really have much of that kind of spectrum at all.

        • bucdenny

          A. Many of them sold off the Verizon during the 700a swap. Many are still being used for 2G and HSPA. If they have 80 on average, then most cities would be 20x20Mbps by now and pumping over 100Mbps by now. For FDD deployment, it needs to be contiguous. Reference: http://specmap.sequence-omega(dot)net/blog/
          B. 600Mhz won’t be available to be deployed until at least 2016. Your incorrect Sprint doesn’t have any low band frequencies. Sprint currenlty deploying Nextel’s 800Mhz SMR spectrum which is now LTE Band 26, and CDMA Band 10. That is near nationwide spectrum but only 5×5 in most places compared to duopoly 10×10.

        • Roger Sales

          A) They didn’t sell off “many” or whatever you were trying to say – your English is terrible and so is your coherency. They sold off licenses in markets where they had excess(over 100mhz) and could afford to. They own about 87 mhz total still. That is plenty of mid-band.
          B) I didn’t say Sprint doesn’t have any – re-read what I said.I said they don’t have much – which they don’t. They don’t own the frequency nationwide and they only have about 10 mhz of it.
          A lot would constitute at least 20 mhz on average nationwide.(Verizon and AT&T own about 30-40 nationwide of this spectrum).

      • DDLAR

        I didn’t know that the Sprint frequencies are going to be used in China. That certainly helps. But, it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.
        Sprint clearly doesn’t have a great LTE foot print. That’s a big part of why I said they’re not bringing a lot to the table. Even where they do have LTE coverage it will be difficult for the current T-Mobile customers to take advantage of it. It may be a little easier for current Sprint customers to get on T-Mobile’s LTE network because they’re using standard bands that may already be supported on Sprint phones.
        It also true, that the combined company should be able to build out their foot print faster than either could individually. But, given all the distractions of the merger I doubt the improvement will be significant.
        Also, the combined company will have too much high and mid band spectrum (in fact, the FCC will probably make them divest some). And not enough low band spectrum.
        There are many other reasons why I think this merger is a turkey. But, this post is already getting too long. But, I did want to say one more thing.
        To me, I see a much bigger benefit for T-Mobile to buy/merge with US Cellular than the proposed Sprint merger. U.S. Cellular operates mostly in areas that T-Mobile is weak. It uses mostly complementary spectrum. They have some low band spectrum that could be used by the combined company right away because the bands are, in many cases, already supported by T-Mobile phones.

    • maximus1901

      They’re not gonna merge their 3G networks. They’ll move to volte ASAP using band 26, 12 as the vehicle to get them there.

    • vinnyjr

      Sprint and their pathetic Network if get by the White Shirts with deep pockets will transfer all their customers to T-Mobile’s 10x faster Network and that will be the end of T-Mobile as we know it. T-Mobile’s network remains very fast due to their constant upgrading, you just can not dump milolions of customers and not expect a huge bottle neck. I hope this is stopped before it starts rolling. T-Mobile has never been this strong since I have been with them and that is a long time. Too bad their European owners cannot suck it up and make a serious go of it.

      • Laststop311

        I Have been with t-mobile for over a decade. But I’ve always thought they were strong. I’ve been lucky enough to have fast dc-hspa+ long before lte tho

      • bucdenny

        It would require them to invest 8-10 billions a year to keep up with duopoly. That is money T-Mobile won’t see in profits. Verizon spending over 15 billions, AT&T over 20 billions and Sprint 8 billion. See the drift? It is damn expensive to run a wireless business.

    • HalfnHalfCoffeeJelly

      You know what they bring to the table? Money !!!!! T-mo only became kickass due to the failed merger and new CEO. Sprint is in a tough position because everything takes time. Softbank hasn’t even owned Sprint for a year and it’s CEO can’t build fast enough due to government regulations. Even the “Framily Plans” was a leftover from old Sprint. Plus everyone seems to forget that this a second “4g” network Sprint had to build. If WiMAX had become the standard they would have more coverage then they do now.

      Their boutique frequencies are actually better for data heavy usage which 2.5 hz excels at. The obvious fact is its not a building pentrator and requires a more denser network. Their Nextel network is the low frequency building pentrator they can finally use. Taking all this in buying Tmo is a huge buildout time saver.

      At the end of the day if T-mo had to sell to survive would you want Verixon or AT&T getting them? Sprint is the one that mostly likey will keeps its “Uncarrier” edge. Plus there’s no way T-mo can buy out a company like Sprint, it’s even a damn Tier 1 internet services provider.

  • ProudPapa

    Pretty sad that MVNO’s rank higher in satisfaction than the providers of the networks that they utilize.

    • It’s all about fees and customer service.

      • ProudPapa

        I’ve used Straight Talk before, and while I agree about the fees, their customer service is horrible if you ever have a problem. T-Mobile on the other hand is always very responsive and has been lowering their fees. Maybe one day we’ll see them work their way to the top of that list.

    • mikey

      of course mvno’s would rank better, their customers do not complain about etf’s, locked phones, contracts, or upgrades because they do not exist for those companies. If every carrier had no etf’s, made people pay in full for phones, no contracts locking them to a price that may be higher than newer plans, and having to wait two year for an upgrade, there would be nothing to complain about besides the networks, so the scores would be more realistic.

      • joe

        wait…doesnt t-mobile already do that?

    • Roger Sales

      It’s not so much satisfaction but rather expectancy. For example, customers of feature phones rank their experience better than their smartphone counterparts because they do not care for flare – just something that works. Customers of prepaid more or less just want the same – something that works. The people of the big four will lash out at a survey if their movie buffers once in a while, etc.

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    Speeds in San Jose/South bay area are exactly what’s represented here. I can get faster speeds compared to most people I know on other carriers. I did see 80 Mbps on ATT once which was an exception.

    • monkeybutts

      I hope the east bay gets better with T-mobile. There are a lot more spotty areas there for speeds.

  • Daniel Rivera

    Here in west Covina ca, tmobile lte is crazy one day i can be getting 30 the nxt day on the same spot less than 5..

    • Justin747

      Your worst T-Mobile performance is still better than Sprint in SoCal.

      Verizon is super patchy in really any area around the 405 from Santa Monica down to Long Beach.

  • Maverick86

    Unless it’s nation wide it’s moot…

    • Justin747

      Right…. I TOTALLY need to pay for coverage in places I never visit….

      Cell coverage isn’t a perfect science. The seemingly infallible Verizon has issues in certain places as well. LA comes to mind.

      • HalfnHalfCoffeeJelly

        That’s how I feel too. Why should I go the big red and pay their crazy rate so I can make a call from Alaska.

    • Singleweird

      unless its nation wide. ITS NATION WIDE.

  • Laststop311

    NE ohio seeing good speeds on my galaxy note 2. 28mbps down 10.6 mbps up. T-mobile’s LTE covers me everywhere i go on an average day i only fall out of lte when driving between cities and im in a rural area which is less then 2% of the year. Then its the dreaded 2g gsm tho this is supposed to become all LTE by the end of 2015.

  • TheCudder

    At this point, T-Mobile needs to work on expanding and hold off improving existing coverage areas. Work towards converting the zero and voice only coverage areas along the eastern US and atleast California to HSPA+.

    • fsured

      It has to be done with balance. They can’t stop upgrading current LTE areas or they risk falling behind in technology and service to the other companies. But they also know the need and are expanding the 4g network to cover 2g. It is just at a rate that people are not satisfied with since it takes more time and resources. If they could flip a switch and it be done overnight they would.

  • TC

    Des Moines, IA must not be one of the test cities as Verizon is 3rd t best for LTE speed. The “X” in XLTE is for extra slow