The latest network tests from RootMetrics have Verizon winning in a sweep, but Overland Park-based Sprint managed to beat the best on one of many secondary measurements taken.
RootMetrics tests the four national carriers twice each year, releasing the second half 2016 results Thursday. Verizon noted that its second-half sweep is the first time a carrier has done so in both tests during a year.
“We’ve extended our lead,” said Nicki Palmer, chief network officer for Verizon. “When it comes now to choosing unlimited (data) plans, we really believe the availability and performance of networks matters even more to consumers.”
RootMetrics called Verizon the “undisputed leader” in nationwide network coverage and reliability based on its latest tests that looked at overall performance, reliability, speed, data, calls and texts. AT&T was “a strong number-two performer,” it said.
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Sprint finished third overall in the national tests ahead of T-Mobile US, although T-Mobile has been winning the four carriers’ competition for new subscribers.
Sprint trailed the field in RootMetrics’ tests for network speeds and data. T-Mobile trailed in text and call tests.
RootMetrics is one of several network testing efforts. OpenSignal, which relies on consumers’ use of its app to test network data speeds, recently ranked Sprint last among the four national carriers.
In the national RootMetrics tests, calls were Sprint’s strong suit and the one area it managed a limited victory over Verizon. In national tests, Sprint ranked second to Verizon in the call tests.
Where Sprint claimed an edge was in RootMetrics winners in 125 metropolitan markets. RootMetrics looked at how many markets produced an outright win or a shared win for a network in each of the six categories. For calls, Sprint tabbed 108 outright metro wins or ties and Verizon had 107.
Verizon had the highest metro wins and ties in each of the five other categories: overall performance, reliability, speed, data and text.
Last month, RootMetrics’ second-half report on the Kansas City market placed Sprint behind Verizon and T-Mobile and in a tie for third with AT&T for overall performance.
Sprint’s chief technology officer John Saw said the national RootMetrics report released Thursday shows the network’s progress.
“We’re particularly pleased with this call performance ranking because we know it’s one of the most important drivers of customer satisfaction. While differences in speed (for example, 10 Mbps vs 20 Mbps) is not noticeable to most customers, a dropped or blocked call certainly is,” Saw wrote in a blog post.
He also sought to minimize the differences in networks, a message Sprint’s advertising emphasizes with claims that its network’s reliability is within 1 percent of Verizon’s.
“As I’ve said in the past, we love to win awards, but one carrier ‘winning’ doesn’t mean another carrier is losing. What the other carriers don’t want customers to know, is that all networks now offer a great experience with a difference in performance that is small,” Saw’s post said.
Verizon’s Palmer, however, disputed claims that networks have reached “parity” and said RootMetrics’ scores provide the evidence of the differences.
“There’s so many claims out there that networks have parity, and there’s so much noise in the marketplace,” Palmer said.
Each company has targeted the other in the marketing campaigns. Sprint nabbed Verizon’s former “Can you hear me now?” pitchman for its commercials. And Verizon targeted Sprint in an advertisement starring Jamie Foxx.