T-Mobile Has The Competition Beat On 5G Availability, Ookla Says

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T-Mobile may not have the fastest network around but it does have the most widespread 5G network availability. That's according to the Q2 2020 Speedtest United States Market Report from Ookla. In fact, compared to AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile customers see a 5G signal in almost 20-times more places. That's compared to the combined figures for its competitors.

The company's customers see it in nearly 130-times more places than Verizon on its own. Of the total of 5,164 cities where 5G is available, T-Mobile had a total of 5,013 deployments. That's compared to AT&T at 237 and Verizon at 39.

However, T-Mobile was not at all the fastest 5G network provider. Ookla scored the company dead last, in fact — with a score of 64.26. Verizon remains the fastest with a score that the others don't begin to approach, thanks to its reliance on mmWave 5G. The carrier scored 870.50. AT&T fell in at second, scoring 78.68.

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Sprint's speed scores were also calculated since it reported for Q2 2020 but T-Mobile has since shut down Sprint's 5G sites in the interim. The now-defunct carrier scored 64.82.

How do the carriers do outside of 5G availability?

Ookla's testing doesn't just compare 5G speed in the US though. T-Mobile's overall network — reportedly reaching 225 million people and covering more than one million square miles — is also the fastest in terms of latency. T-Mobile was measured at an average of 31 ms on that front.

By comparison, AT&T scored third at 35 ms on latency, while it beat T-Mobile on consistency. T-Mobile came within just 0.5-percent of AT&T’s network consistency score. AT&T scored on consistency at 79.7-percent.

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Verizon Wireless was second on latency at 33 ms and third on consistency at 73.8-percent. Compared to other carriers, Sprint had the highest latency and worst consistency at 39 ms and 66.1-percent, respectively.

4G LTE results mixed things up a bit more too. In terms of overall networking, AT&T led the way on speed. It scored 41.23 points from Ookla, compared to T-Mobile's 33.69. Sprint rang in at third with a score of 31.53 while Verizon was in the last place at 30.77.

Availability on 4G effectively reversed the rankings of 5G, with T-Mobile coming in last. Sprint tied up with Verizon for Q2 2020 at 99-percent. AT&T fell in behind at 97.8-percent while T-Mobile fell in 0.3-percent behind that.

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Finally, a full account of all network types, as tested on 5G devices shows that which device is being used can make all the difference. On that front, AT&T scored the best across the board on network performance. Ookla gives it a score of 57.52, compared to T-Mobile's 49.22. Verizon and Sprint scored 47.23 and 44.3, respectively.

T-Mobile appears to have a broad advantage here

Now, Ookla is arguably among the best speed testing apps available on Android. And the comprehensive array of information shows that device choice, location, and other factors matter as much as anything else. T-Mobile's complete dominance in availability on the 5G front is heavily offset by its speed rating, for instance. And that's going to vary too across all networks based on which device people are using.

But its recent merger with Sprint could be a serious booster on that front as well. T-Mobile's absorption of Sprint means that the carrier now has access to a much wider array of network bands and licensing. Differences in strategy may ultimately be the determining factor though.

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T-Mobile started with rolling out a slower, low-band network with better latency and capacity. Faster 5G is expected too but will arrive at a slower rate. AT&T has taken a mixed approach right from the start and Verizon only recently announced its low-band network would be switching on. That could change things dramatically, so it's still anybody's game. But for now, T-Mobile definitely has the advantage.