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Mobile Networks Report: T-Mobile's Focus On Innovation Helps It Beat AT&T, Verizon With Fastest Overall Network

Wireless analytics firm OpenSignal crowns T-Mobile as having the quickest and most responsive LTE network in fourth-quarter 2017.

T-Mobile, the third-largest carrier in the U.S., had the fastest network overall in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to wireless analytics firm OpenSignal.

T-Mobile is cashing in on the capacity issues that have been plaguing its carrier competition, including the two largest wireless providers in the country, AT&T and Verizon, OpenSignal said in its fifth annual report. During the final financial quarter of the year, T-Mobile established itself as the player with the quickest and most responsive network by nabbing the No. 1 spot in overall network download speeds.

The carrier had tied for first place with Verizon last year in 4G download speeds, but came out solidly on top this year.

[Related: Partners: T-Mobile's Business Customer Growth Fueled By Expanded Business Services, Channel Focus]

OpenSignal's "State Of Mobile Networks: USA Survey" found that T-Mobile's average download speed on its 4G connections was 19.4 Mbps -- a best for the wireless provider. T-Mobile's score was trailed by Verizon at 17.8 Mbps, AT&T at 13.3 Mbps and Sprint at 12 Mbps. OpenSignal conducts its surveys by collecting and measuring mobile data speeds through an application that has been downloaded by more than 15 million consumers, according to the firm.

The results show that T-Mobile is staying true to its promise as ’the un-carrier, a title that the company and its employees wear with pride, as evidenced by its investments in its technology," said Jonathan Hartman, vice president of sales for PlanetOne Communications, a T-Mobile partner.

PlanetOne got in on the ground floor with T-Mobile when the carrier launched its partner program in 2014. Since then, the carrier has been gaining on its wireless competition by way of its focus on network evolution, as well as its talent, Hartman said.

"One area where we are closely aligned [with T-Mobile] is partner engagement. T-Mobile takes the time to listen to and learn from the partners they serve across both channels – IT and telecom. That’s a priceless best practice that always pays off," he said.

According to OpenSignal, AT&T and Verizon reported slower data speeds when both carriers resurrected their unlimited data plans. AT&T, for its part, publicly refuted OpenSignal's findings, saying that the launch of its unlimited plans has not impacted its network speed. Verizon has also disputed the firm's reports, saying that "individual peak speeds from crowd-sourced tests don’t tell the whole story.’

OpenSignal said in this year's report that both the AT&T and Verizon network have bounced back from their "pre-unlimited" plan speeds.

Even last year, however, T-Mobile was gaining on the incumbent carriers, OpenSignal found in its February 2017 "State Of Mobile Networks: USA Survey." The Bellevue, Wash.-based provider at the time had displayed the lowest amount of latency on its 3G network than AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.

Looking ahead to 5G, the top three carriers -- Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile -- have openly shared plans to begin rolling out 5G networks by the end of 2018. For its part, T-Mobile has revealed plans to begin its rollout in 2019 and has targeted 2020 for a full nationwide 5G rollout.

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