Report finds cities where T-Mobile network congestion is the worst

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Network congestion can be a real pain, slowing down speeds on your phone and possibly making it annoying to try and use the internet. But where is congestion the worst? A new report claims to have that info.

Salinas, CA and Warren, MI are among the five worst cities for network congestion on T-Mobile’s network, according to Tutela Technologies. The research firm measured download speeds on T-Mobile’s 3G and 4G networks using a 2MB file and found that those two cities had the worst congestion, with speeds dropping 59.8 and 59.5 percent, respectively, from off-peak to on-peak times.

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The other three cities rounding out the top five worst cities for T-Mobile network congestion include Moreno Valley, CA with a 58.7 percent drop in speed during on-peak hours; Pomona, CA with a 57.6 percent change in speed; and San Bernardino, CA, which showed a 56.0 percent drop in download speeds during on-peak hours.

This report also listed off the top five best cities for T-Mobile network congestion, meaning these places are where download speeds change the least from off-peak to on-peak hours. Chattanooga, TN was the best, with just a 13.0 percent drop in download throughput during peak hours, while Bellevue, WA (where T-Mo’s headquarters are located) came in second with a 15.1 percent change in download throughput during peak hours.

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Other cities that enjoy the least network congestion include Little Rock, AR with a 15.4 percent change in download throughput during peak hours; Omaha, NE with a 15.7 percent change; and Pittsburgh, PA with a 17.9 percent change.

Tutela said of its findings that in T-Mobile’s less congested cities, there was more data traffic over 1900MHz spectrum and less traffic over lower band spectrum, especially 700MHz. The majority of T-Mo’s traffic in cities with more network congestion use the 1700MHz AWS-1 band. The research firm also said that T-Mo has more customers in markets with more network congestion, which suggests that the congestion is being caused by a large amount of customers.

To reach its findings, Tutela places a small piece of testing software in some U.S. smartphones by getting Android and iOS developers to insert that software in their apps. This software then runs in the backgound and tests network speeds and other variables. For this network congestion report, Tutela examined data from around 200 of the top U.S. markets, took the average download speeds during off-peak and on-peak hours, and compared the difference.

In response to this report, T-Mobile said to Light Reading, “We’re always expanding our network coverage and enhancing it with new technologies and added capacity for customers.” T-Mo went on to say that it’s deploying more low-band spectrum and adding more mid-band sectors or sites to help make its network more dense. We regularly get updates from T-Mobile when it expands its low-band and mid-band LTE coverage, including some in the past couple of weeks.

Do you live in one of the cities with the worst or best T-Mobile network congestion?

Source: Light Reading

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  • Petey07

    I notice SF Bay Area, the data speed has been inconsistent and a bit slow. Especially, the yellow BART route during rush hour is just bad. I’m not sure if they are upgrading the antenna, but I notice speeds are not up to par (decent LTE speeds). Currently using the iPhone XS, I thought that the intel modern might be the reason, but partner is using iPhone 8 plus which I believe to be Qualcomm.

    • Trevnerdio

      You’ll be happy to know Intel is getting out of the modem business very soon haha

  • Josef Torkelsen

    I work in Pomona and agree with it being one of the worst. I can’t even download an email it is so bad. They just put band 71 on one of the towers which fixed one area a little but the other tower is completely worthless. I wish they would maintain their network.

  • Hurlamania

    They forgot the west side of Cleveland OH
    Usually 3 or less

  • Sharti24

    Shutdown HSPA and that will increase LTE speeds

    • slybacon

      I agree. Not sure why its still running.

      • Minhaj Syed

        Its for fall back in case VoLTE is not available, if theres no HSPA the calls will automatically drop.

        • GeoGuy17

          I’m okay with that as it would force the issue of improving LTE service.

        • SirStephenH

          3G fallback is only useful where T-Mobile doesn’t have low-band LTE anyways. Due to 3G’s slightly better mid-band coverage, coverage in areas without low-band LTE is supplemented by 3G.

        • SirStephenH

          That would only be an issue where T-Mobile doesn’t have low-band LTE. There’s no excuse where low-band LTE is available and there’s no excuse to not have a two year shutdown period now that T-Mobile owns and is deploying nationwide low-band LTE.

      • SirStephenH

        Yeah, the whole backwards compatibility explanation hasn’t worked for at least a couple of years now. Besides a handful of barely usable tablets, who has a device that isn’t capable of LTE now and days? I guarantee 3G will be shut down once T-Mobile starts looking for more spectrum to throw at 5G though.

        Edit: 3G has a little better range than mid-band LTE so I believe that was another reason to keep it around. But why not only keep it in areas without low-band LTE or now that T-Mobile finally owns and is deploying nationwide low-band has it not announced a two year shutdown period?

    • Mike Smith

      I don’t think there’s much of HSPA left?

  • drcaveman

    1st off did they not test midtown Manhattan? I get around saying 300Kbps during hey commute times it’s awful. Especially considering I get around 200Mbps at night in Midtown.
    2nd which apps are installing this background data testing software, so I won’t install them. Running download checks in the background is just awful.

    • slybacon

      I don’t believe said apps actually run their own speed tests, they simply observe the rates at which the app is transferring data.

      • drcaveman

        Oh ok that doesn’t sound bad then.

      • Mike Smith

        Is there an API that allows that? Sounds like a security issues.

        • slybacon

          I have an app called Rootmetrics CoverageMap and it has a feature that will observe what network I am connected to (carrier and 2G,3G,4G) and the data rates received and sent with the device. Claims it’s anonymous.

        • SirStephenH

          They don’t observe the data being sent, only the rate at which it’s being sent at.

    • SirStephenH

      It’s mostly speed test, mapping, and carrier apps and you’ll normally get a disclaimer from apps that do.

  • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

    They forgot part of Las Vegas near boulder hwy and Harmon its horrible. Don’t even get 1mbps

    • Mike Smith

      I always hear my Las Vegas friend complaining about T-Mo. why is it slow in Vegas?

      • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

        After making several complaints tmobile said it’s to many ppl connected to same tower

        • Josh Warfel

          Aka congestion, which is what this article is about.

        • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

          Yeah sux thoug it’s pretty much worthless even to make phone calls at times

        • pda96

          That’s a lame answer. Every carrier has that problem, not just TMO. So add another tower nearby already. It’s not rocket science.

        • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

          Maybe your rite but get this am between 2 tower it’s a total of 3 towers waiting miles but 2 according to tmobile my phibe bounce alot from.. Wish the first answer they give me of my slow internet

        • marque2

          That is actually another good reason for the merger. An example. From Yuma to Gila TMobile attempts to serve with two towers. There are huge no data and no call zones. If Sprint is added to the mix the company gets 5 more towers on that stretch of I8

        • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

          True goin to lakemead and some lakes passing arizona side its bad no service at good 20 miles or more

        • SirStephenH

          Most of all the carriers’ towers cover the exact same area. A lot of times you’ll get 3 or all 4 of the top carriers on the exact same tower or they’ll put up a tower or two within feet of another one. T-Mobile is only planning on keeping a handful of Sprint’s towers because of this reason.

        • Cam Fas

          Im in vegas its kind of sad that we have all of this spectrum in this city and have problems in many areas they are good but they can always improve at this point we should have 3way and 4 way CA on all towers along with 4×4 mimo or massive mimo and 256qam active on all towers. Add extra fiber backhaul to all towers at the same time they could have a killer network here if they upgraded all towers to that level.

        • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

          So true but honestly think Tmobile it’s more worry about 5g since las vegas it’s 1 of there first site

        • Cam Fas

          You would think since Vegas is generally a first test city and one of the number one tourist attractions in the world that maybe they would want to have a overall strong network to show off. LTE and 5G should be a priority but mainly LTE since 100 percent of their subscriber base as of today is still on LTE.

        • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

          True .. It’s like went you go to speedway for nascar service it’s horrible . Wish the can put temp tower for best service work at mgm service its no so bad even on busy days

        • Mike Smith

          The whole city?

        • Guillermo Eduardo Ortega-ibarr

          No sure there some spots I get great speed even in rush hour

  • ugp5

    Just my luck, I am in one of the slow cities.

  • Jay Holm

    Isn’t this what carrier aggregation is supposed to be for, combining more frequencies to handle more traffic….perha pe T-Mobile should be deploying tri-band/quad-band carrier aggregation on each and every cell tower, instead of just certain ones in “high traffic”…

  • izick

    I live in Boston and I get similar speeds except for situations during rush hour, because I can see Mass Pike, Storrow, and Memorial from where I live on Commonwealth Ave, so I imagine it’s a matter of all those people sitting in traffic streaming music.

    • SirStephenH

      Music streaming actually uses very little bandwidth unless you’re using Tidal, which very few people do, and most services cache music on the device, reducing data usage further. There are actually a few artists, playlists, and “radio stations” that I have Google Music keep downloaded on my phone so most times I don’t use data at all while listening to music. More likely it’s passengers streaming video and downloading things.

  • DILAW IDDAHLA

    I live in Detroit and I can tell you that T-Mo was way faster 7 years ago. Even 2 years ago was faster than the speeds I get today. I swear sometimes I am getting 2 mbps. Sometimes I even show 4 LTE bars, but takes 10 seconds to load a web page. Only reason I am still with T-Mo is because my plan is grandfathered. I wouldn’t pay $40/line for this service. I think even if Sprint and T-Mo merge, their service won’t be that great. I am not sure how is it that you will take the slowest 2 services and some how end up with the best?

    • Trevnerdio

      Because Sprint has a ton of spectrum that they’re just too cash-strapped to actually do much of anything with. If you actually put all of that to good use (plus T-Mobile finishing its 600MHz rollout in the next couple of years) things will be a lot better. Especially as 5G gains popularity! Notice when new tech comes out, both are fast? Problem is, almost everyone is on LTE nowadays so it’s super saturated.

      • DILAW IDDAHLA

        I see, but I just don’t see how Sprint and T-Mo would actually have service as good as Verizon. I just don’t believe them honestly.

        • Trevnerdio

          Only time will tell. VZW’s got all those nice super rural roaming agreements already, so we’ll see if T-Mo will be able to do something similar.

        • SirStephenH

          Really? Because right now Verizon and T-Mobile are pretty much tied in every metric. Verizon only slightly edges ahead of T-Mobile in coverage. The merger will bring a ton of spectrum and several thousand new towers, likely rocketing T-Mobile into the lead. T-Mobile hasn’t even fully deployed band 71 which has led to large increases in coverage and reliability.

      • SirStephenH

        Yeah, band 12 was 3-4 times faster when it was first deployed but it sucks now that everyone has a phone that supports it. I hope that T-Mobile deploys 5G quickly in WA after band 71 is freed up early next year so I can enjoy some great low-band speeds before everyone ruins it. We’ll be looking to upgrade our phones next year and whatever we choose, probably in the LG V series, will be 5G sub 6GHz capable.

    • Iphart

      Thing is T-Mobile is an outdoors cell phone company. Where I work in the parking lot I get close to 80 MB down inside the building I get 3 to 6 MB in a good day.

    • Clevenger23

      More towers with additional bandwidth to share

  • David

    N. Reno,NV not that great either using OP6T

  • Zacamandapio

    I live in San Bernardino and I approve this message.
    Specially when there’s a RAVE @ the Orange Show then there’s no service at all.

  • RonV42

    Just outside of my subdivision I get great T-Mobile speed. But once in it my phone locks onto some 3rd party tower and I am stuck with terrifible speeds. But hey I got Wifi at home.

  • Willie D

    Clearly they forgot San Francisco in this study.

    • Petey07

      I totally agreed. I was expecting to see the SF Bay Area on the list too.

    • xavier

      well Salinas , CA is on the list!! makes sense as to why thats on there.

  • Clevenger23

    They really need to expand that search. Elkhart Indiana when it works great, you can get 20+ mbps. 4th of July downtown, no internet. Couldn’t even load Google. Comic Con event, after they added some capacity, I was getting about 400kbps. To go from 20+ Mbps to less then 512k is really congested.

  • Christopher Olson

    This makes a lot of sense that three of the top 5 most congested are in the inland empire right next to each other. This is where all the blue collar and lower middle class live but commute to LA or orange county for work so speeds probably sky rocket during the day and plummet in the evening when everyone gets home from work. Also T-Mobile and metro have been massively popular in those towns for being cheaper alternatives in areas that aren’t exactly the best cities around.

  • CupcakeBandit

    Tmo blows in SF . How did this not make the list?

  • SirStephenH

    I’d say up to around 75% of Kitsap County, WA is highly congested. T-Mobile hasn’t put up any new towers to keep up with rising data usage and population and a lot of the county relies on 5+5MHz of band 12 alone. We’ve seen an increase in population countywide due to in large part because of skyrocketing Seattle housing prices (thanks Amazon) and even Bremerton, our largest city, has abysmal speeds outside of a relatively small downtown area, although I sometimes wonder if that has anything to do with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

  • Mike Smith

    I’m not getting the speed tests I used to but honestly I don’t really care.