US carrier Verizon has won the honor of being named the top wireless provider in the nation by research firm RootMetrics for the ninth testing period in a row. As always RootMetrics conducted its own independent testing of all four of the major carriers in various spots across the nation in order to gather its data and name a top carrier. This year, Verizon was the overall nationwide champion in all of the different categories, including reliability, speed, data, call, and text. The carrier scored 92.7 points overall in the RootScore report for this year. The closest competitor, AT&T, was behind by just over two points. T-Mobile, meanwhile, was at the bottom of the heap with a nearly ten point gap.
The RootScore report assigns scores out of 100 for five different metrics, and it obtains those scores by travelling all over the United States with testing equipment and consumer-facing smartphones. For this testing period, RootMetrics staff performed over 4 million tests across just under 250,000 miles driven. Verizon scored 96.8 in text performance, 92.7 on calls, 96.5 on data, 93.2 in speed, and 96.3 on reliability. According to Verizon's Executive Vice President of Operations, Tami Erwin, the rewards reflect why people choose Verizon, with reliability being one of the most important metrics.
The RootMetrics report may show Verizon as a clear winner, but AT&T is fairly close behind in every single category. Sprint manages to strike a balance in its performance, but has largely remained stagnant. The same can be said of T-Mobile, but this may be due in part to the company's questionable performance outside of metropolitan areas. Within highly populated areas, T-Mobile tends to perform better, according to the report. RootMetrics' reports reflect the carriers' current customer-facing networks, but within the next few years, this could quickly become anybody's race; all four carriers are scrambling to begin developing and rolling out commercial 5G solutions, and each has its own unique advantage in that race. Verizon has already begun its 5G buildout, and may well commercialize before any other carrier. Sprint, meanwhile, has the largest amount of high-band spectrum out of any carrier in the race, perfect for building out small cell networks in densely populated metropolitan areas. AT&T boasts an already robust portfolio of metropolitan territories with customer-facing 4.9G service, which will require very little work to turn into full-fledged 5G once the company is ready to begin its rollout. T-Mobile is poised to finally boost its usability in rural territories thanks to a plan to not only roll out fixed wireless points and small cells, but to transmit 5G over its recent 600MHz low-band spectrum winnings from the FCC's most recent incentive auction, using network virtualization to make up for the relatively low speed and capacity of the spectrum at hand. With all four national carriers ready to make their stand in the near-future 5G market, it will be interesting to see consumer reports like this one following the growth of their 5G rollouts.