Sprint’s 4G wireless network continues to lag its rivals’ offerings, including in Kansas City, according to an OpenSignal report Wednesday.
The battle for network supremacy is between Verizon and T-Mobile, OpenSignal’s report said. They tied in the group’s national download speed tests. Verizon edged out its smaller rival because its 4G signal was available to its smartphone users more often than T-Mobile’s was to its subscribers.
Sprint posted the slowest 4G download speeds among the four national carriers, trailing the two leaders and AT&T. Sprint’s 4G signal also was available less often for its customers than the three larger carriers’ signals were available to their customers, OpenSignal said.
In Overland Park-based Sprint’s hometown market, the company’s network outperformed its national numbers, but it still trailed the other three in speed and availability.
One upside for Sprint customers in the report: Sprint’s 4G signal availability is expanding.
“Sprint is still in last place in our availability rankings, but it’s definitely improving quickly,” OpenSignal’s report said.
All carriers have been improving the technology behind their 4G networks in a continuing effort to outpace the competition and provide faster and more reliable service to consumers.
Sprint often highlights network reports from other testing groups. It frequently mentions improvements documented by RootMetrics, though its most recent report showed T-Mobile supplanted Sprint in a tie with Verizon here.
Sprint’s advertising touts that its network is within 1 percent of Verizon’s for reliability, a result that Sprint said came from its analysis of Nielsen data that is not available publicly. PC Magazine had highlighted Sprint’s network gains in a report last summer.
Last summer, Sprint demonstrated faster network speeds at a Kansas City Royals game that it said would reach area customers by Halloween. And it recently said a breakthrough would increase the reach of its fastest network signals in newer handsets this year.
The OpenSignal report was based on measurements smartphone users take on the OpenSignal app. It covered consumers’ experiences in the final months of 2016.
In the speed tests, Verizon’s 4G network was fastest by downloading 16.89 megabits of data per second, just ahead of T-Mobile’s 16.65 Mbps. AT&T’s 4G network delivered 13.86 Mbps and Sprint’s 8.99 Mbps.
In the nationwide availability tests, Verizon’s 4G signal was available 88.17 percent of the time, compared with 86.60 percent for T-Mobile, 82.23 percent for AT&T and 76.81 percent for Sprint.