PCMag has just released the results of its sixth annual mobile networks speed test and according to the survey, Verizon has continued its reign at the top of the heap for yet another year. The test however, finds smaller carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile are closing the gap on the big two, with Sprint especially coming up leaps and bounds since the last test conducted in 2014. Verizon and AT&T have, between them, emerged on top every single year thus far, but with T-Mobile already having improved its coverage, reliability and speeds last year, and Sprint proving to be the most improved carrier this time around, the real takeaway from this year's survey seems to be the heightened competition within the mobile landscape in the country.
The study was conducted across 30 towns, and PCMag claims it ran more test cycles than it did for any of its previous tests. While Verizon expectedly proved to be fastest network in urban America, PCMag also found the carrier to have the fastest data speeds across all of rural America, where AT&T traditionally have been strong over the years. That trend has seen a shift over the past couple of years, and now, according to this year's study, Verizon has well and truly consolidated its position as the fastest network in the nation across the spectrum. While Verizon won around half the cities, PCMag found that there was nothing much to choose between AT&T and T-Mobile in the rest of the urban areas, which were won by these two carriers "almost equally", with the sole exception of Denver, CO, where Sprint was found to have the fastest network. AT&T was found to be strong in the Southeast and in Texas, whereas T-Mobile consistently outperformed its rivals in the Western cities.
It's worth noting here, that Sprint transitioned from its earlier WiMAX network to LTE a couple of years ago, but it's taken the carrier two years to get wider coverage and improve speeds. Now that it has, PCMag feels the carrier's speeds have doubled or even tripled from last year's test. However, it's not just Sprint which has had to fill the gaps that existed in their LTE coverage. AT&T and T-Mobile have also improved their coverage in the Northeast along the I-95 highway and in Mississippi along the I-55. While Sprint's coverage still hasn't caught up with its bigger rivals, it's gotten much better especially in and around Atlanta, GA; Denver, CO; Phoenix, AZ; and Houston, TX. PCMag also noted that for was the first time ever, its testers got LTE coverage from all four carriers in every single town it surveyed. The publication made two changes to its list of 30 cities from last year. It dropped Austin in favor of San Antonio in Texas and swapped out Jacksonville for Tampa in Florida on account of the newly chosen cities being more populous.