LTE data speeds across all four major carriers are currently on the rise, after recent struggles by AT&T and Verizon. When T-Mobile initially announced its T-Mobile One unlimited data plan back in August of 2016, rivals were initially reluctant to introduce competing plans. Within six months of the launch, though, both AT&T and Verizon announced their own alternatives, a decision that saw 4G LTE data speeds nosedive on both networks according to a report by OpenSignal.
Prior to the launch of their respective plans in February 2017, Verizon held a slight advantage over T-Mobile when it came to LTE speeds, with the big red carrier offering speeds of 17.6Mbps, while its magenta rival boasted speeds of 17.2Mbps. Despite this marginal gap between the two, both speeds were significantly higher than those offered by AT&T and Sprint, who provided speeds of 14.2 and 9.9Mbps respectively. But fast forward six months to August of last year, the overall situation was very different. In this short time, T-Mobile's speed had increased slightly to 17.8Mbps, but Verizon's speeds had dropped just under 3Mbps to 14.4Mbps – giving T-Mobile a significant lead – while AT&T 's had decreased to 12.1Mbps. Sprint's speeds, on the other hand, initially experienced a slight increase during the period, but eventually declined back down to the same level it offered six months prior. Since then, the situation has been more positive for all four carriers. At the last registered levels in November, T-Mobile had once again boosted its speed offerings, this time to 18.8Mbps, while Verizon trailed behind at 15.9Mbps, although this represents an impressive increase over its August level. In terms of AT&T, the increase seen is more minimal, with speeds back up to 12.5Mbps, while Sprint was capable of closing the gap with its closest rival significantly, registering speeds of 11.8Mbps.
It's clear that all four major networks are gradually adapting to the strain of Unlimited 4G data plans, albeit after an initial struggle in the case of AT&T and Verizon. At current levels, the two carriers are still significantly behind the speeds registered before the introduction of their plans, but if Verizon can maintain their current growth level it shouldn't be too long before they are at similar speed levels to the ones seen a year ago. In terms of AT&T, though, it appears the path back to their original speeds might be a bit longer, with speed growth much more minimal, putting them at risk of being overtaken by Sprint.