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Verizon Edges AT&T in Network Quality, While Sprint Makes Improvements

As price competition intensifies, rankings of network quality are increasingly important for all four major carriers.

iStockphoto / HelleM

Price competition is intense in the cellular business, and increasingly, so is the competition for top ratings in network quality.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, for example, said at Code Conference that his company would be the No. 1 or No. 2 network within two years’ time — a bold claim for a company that has been a distant fourth in recent years. AT&T and Verizon rely on the strength of their networks to justify prices that in most cases are higher than those offered by Sprint and T-Mobile. T-Mobile, meanwhile, has been boasting that its LTE network offers city dwellers fast speeds on an less-congested network.

So how are the companies doing?

There is some good news for each in the latest rankings from RootMetrics, an independent testing firm whose vehicles drive around the country testing data reliability and speeds as well as call and texting performance.

Verizon remains tops nationally, bolstering its network case, though AT&T is still a close second. Sprint did post some gains, though it remains far from the goal Claure set out. T-Mobile fares poorly nationally and at the state level because of its weak rural coverage, but it continues to gain accolades in some cities.

In total, Verizon had 512 awards, AT&T had 441, T-Mobile had 221 and Sprint had 180. But T-Mobile had no state-level awards, and nationally Verizon claimed five of the top six spots, with AT&T garnering the one for text performance.

“With strong reliability, fast speeds, and an improved total of Overall RootScore Awards in metro testing, AT&T could narrow the gap with Verizon even further as we move into the second half of 2015 and beyond,” RootMetrics said in its report.

The numbers aren’t a huge shift from prior quarters, but represent a key barometer as each company looks to stake its claims.


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