TELECOM

Who is the fastest wireless provider in Austin? It’s not who you think 

Posted July 19th, 2018

In the race to get to 5G wireless Internet speeds over the next few years, the major wireless providers — AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless — are building out new infrastructure for that next-gen set of networks.

Could that be the reason that of the four major wireless providers, the one that came in last in national rankings for the first half of this year is also, somehow, the fastest wireless provider in Austin?

Those are the surprising, spit-out-your-Topo-Chico results of new information released by Ookla, the company behind the Speedtest, based on more than 12 million cell-network tests across more than 2.8 million devices.

While T-Mobile was the top overall speediest wireless service in the U.S. according to those tests, in Austin the results were different. Ookla says that in Austin, Sprint was the top carrier with a speed score of 28.40, followed by AT&T with 27.90, T-Mobile at 27.30 and Verizon with 23.63.

Nikki Asay, a marketing coordinator at Ookla said of the results: “A number of factors can impact speeds seen among cities and carriers. We do often find that speeds and fastest carriers shift from city to city and in rural/urban divides, which is also true of averages seen in the country as a whole compared to a city. Factors such as infrastructure can be a root cause of this but population density, geographic considerations and network congestion also play roles as well.”

SeongJoon Cho / BLOOMBERGDisplays promote 5G technology at the World IT Show 2018 in Seoul.

In a list of major cities, Sprint only came out on top in a handful of other cities including Denver; Lincoln, Nebraska; Louisville, Kentucky; and Reno, Nevada.

What did Sprint have to say about all this? The company says it’s happy to take the award for “Most-improved” and that it’s closing the app with competitors such as AT&T.

Roni Singleton, a spokeswoman for Sprint, said in an email: “We expect our performance to continue to dramatically improve with our largest Next-Gen Network investment in years well underway. Our customers in Austin are experiencing better coverage, reliability and speed as we upgrade cell sites, add more cell sites and small cells, and deploy Massive MIMO to launch mobile 5G in the first half of 2019.”

Ookla said in its report conclusion: “With any luck, 5G will also jumpstart upload speeds which have lagged in recent years. For now, T-Mobile’s investment in LTE has made them the fastest carrier in the U.S. and Verizon Wireless is close behind. T-Mobile has the highest HD Speed Ratio at the national level and was the fastest carrier in the majority of states. However, Verizon won in nearly half of the country’s largest cities.”

Other interesting findings:

  • The fastest wireless city in the U.S. was Minneapolis, with a speed score of 44.99. Verizon Wireless was the top carrier in that market.
  • The U.S. still lags badly behind many other countries on both download and upload speeds. We’re 43rd in the world on download speeds and 73rd in upload speeds. When will someone make our wireless speeds great again?
  • The Samsung Galaxy 9 outperforms the iPhone X in terms of average wireless speeds across all four carriers.
  • In rural U.S. areas, T-Mobile still comes out on top on speed scores at 21.72.
  • Fastest state: Minnesota. Slowest: Wyoming.

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