RootMetrics Survey: Verizon Is Best In Mobile Network Performance, AT&T A 'Strong No. 2'

The Results Are In

Mobile analytics firm RootMetrics just wrapped up the second half of its 2016 summary of mobile network performance in the U.S., having put the four major wireless providers through their paces. While Verizon once again cleaned up in all of the categories and AT&T landed in second place, the survey found that Sprint is starting to give the two incumbents a run for their money and close the gap in a couple of the performance categories.

The RootMetrics survey pulled in mobile network performance data from July 2016 to December 2016. Here's how AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon fared.

The Survey

RootMetrics, an HIS Markit Company, tested each carrier's network performance across six categories -- network reliability, speed, data, call performance, text performance and overall network performance -- and offered a "RootScore" to each carrier for every category.

RootMetrics conducts its tests by purchasing "off-the-shelf" Android-based smartphones at the respective carrier's retail store. The mobile devices were used for the tests during the day and at night, in all 50 states and within the top 125 cities across the country, as well as within small towns and country roads, according to RootMetrics.


AT&T took silver in five of the six categories that the RootMetrics survey tested. The Dallas-based carrier finished in second place behind Verizon in reliability, speed, data and text. AT&T took third place in the call category, behind Sprint.

RootMetrics said that while AT&T faced stronger competition this year in the call category, as well as the text category -- it tied in second place with Sprint -- AT&T still remains a strong No. 2 performer. AT&T's rankings during the second half of 2016 remained consistent with its placement in the survey during the first half of 2016, according to the firm.


Sprint landed in third place in overall performance and reliability, but was able to snag second in the call category for the fourth consecutive time. Sprint also moved up to second place from the third spot for text in this survey, tying with AT&T. According to RootMetrics, Sprint's second-place RootScore for the text category nipped at the heels of first-place finisher Verizon's RootScore in the same category.

RootMetrics said that Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint will need to expand its LTE footprint beyond metro areas in order to further close the gap with Verizon and AT&T.


T-Mobile's fourth-place ranking in all six of the categories was consistent with its placement on the survey for the last four testing periods, beginning in 2015, according to RootMetrics.

T-Mobile tends to demonstrate better performance in urban areas compared with state or national levels, the report said. Despite landing in last place after its rivals, the Bellevue, Wash.-based provider almost beat out AT&T for third place in the data and speed categories.


Telecom giant Verizon once again swept the RootMetrics survey during the second half of 2016, marking its seventh consecutive year claiming the top spot in each of the six categories.

The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based carrier was rated first place in overall performance, reliability, speed, data, call, and text without tying in any of the categories. Verizon also performed very well in every setting, including urban areas, according to the firm. At the state level, Verizon had first-place performance in 48 states.