Which Cellphone Provider Has the Worst Internet Speeds?

April 2, 2020 Topic: Technology Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: SmartphoneIPhoneCell PhoneVerizonAT&TTechnology

Which Cellphone Provider Has the Worst Internet Speeds?

Forget 5G. Who is the worst of the worst? 

When 5G phones launch in a big way at some point in the next year, the speed of the Internet on mobile phones are expected to get much faster. But in the meantime, LTE remains the standard.

So when it comes to speed, how do the current carries stack up?

According to a Tom's Guide survey published in December of 2019 and looking at the fastest wireless networks, when it comes to download speeds, Verizon is the fastest of the "big four," while Sprint is the slowest. This is also the case for upload speeds.

Tom's Guide put Verizon's download speeds at 53.3 megabits per second, followed by AT&T (37.1), T-Mobile (36.3), and Sprint (32.5); Sprint also came in behind the discount provider Metro (32.8), though ahead of Straight Talk, Cricket and Boost.

On upload speeds-less crucial on the mobile Internet, but still important-Verizon was tops at 17.5, followed by T-Mobile (16.4), AT&T (12.9), Straight Talk (15.6) and Metro (13.0), with Sprint coming in at 4.0.

The survey was taken in 2018, in eight U.S. cities, and entailed "average download speed, average upload speed and the time it takes to download an app from Google Play." It was the third consecutive year that Verizon came in first.

Another survey, taken by Wirefly and measuring through the first quarter of 2018, used the slightly different measure of average mobile data speed, but came up with similar results.

Verizon was first, with 19.92 Mbps, followed by AT&T (18.26), T-Mobile (17.29) and Sprint (14.77). That survey, Wirefly said, gave 90 percent weight to download speeds and 10 percent to upload speeds. T-Mobile had taken the top spot in Wirefly's previous ranking.

When separated out for average upload speed, Verizon was again first (15.26), followed by AT&T (10.53), T-Mobile (10.19) and Sprint (7.27.)

So based on all of those measures, Sprint is the slowest of the major U.S. carriers. However, that's about to change, because on April 1, T-Mobile and Sprint completed their long-in-the-works merger. The two networks will combine into "The New T-Mobile," with the Sprint brand going away.

In the official announcement of the merger, which was first agreed to in 2018, T-Mobile promised that within a few years, its 5G network will offer speeds "up to eight times faster than current LTE."

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.