A new report published to wireless coverage mapping company OpenSignal's blog on May 17 has now revealed that at least three of the U.S. major carriers managed to significantly increase overall networking speeds over 2017. The company analyzed data from March of that year through the fourth quarter to determine that among those providers, only AT&T landed at the same speed it started at. T-Mobile gained the most, landing at 18.3 Mbps after an increase of 2.6 Mbps. Perhaps surprisingly, Sprint followed behind that in gains although it landed at the bottom in overall speed. The company accelerated its users' average connection by 1.8 Mbps, ending the last quarter of the year at 10.2 Mbps, compared to Verizon's 1.3 Mbps gains and a year-end average of 16.5 Mbps. Finally, the only carrier to not make headway at all was AT&T, beginning and ending with 11.9 Mbps.
T-Mobile is the obvious winner over that period, in terms of overall network speed. That's a fact it has understandably been sure to tout as much as possible. Its speed will also almost certainly improve further if the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is successful since the company would have access to Sprint's wealth of wireless spectrum. In the meantime, what's interesting is that T-mobile grew across three of the metrics OpenSignal uses in its analysis. Namely, it sped up both its 4G and 3G speeds, while consistently increasing the availability of its network. Verizon, meanwhile, managed to drag its speed back up after introducing new unlimited plans which significantly slowed its network early on in the period. AT&T suffered a similar fate but its overall speed only just caught up with its starting speed thanks to improvements in 4G. That means the other network types effectively kept its overall speeds static from the start to the end, with a slight dip in between being rectified by more availability of its 4G network. That lull nearly allowed Sprint to catch up.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that the figures are relatively general, even if they do consider a number of very different metrics. Although they can accurately gauge where a carrier is heading, they don't necessarily give a good indication of how well a network operator works within a given area. So they may be worth taking with a grain of salt.