Sprint’s 4G LTE network continues to lag rival networks nationally and in Kansas City, according to testing by OpenSignal.
OpenSignal hailed the progress that T-Mobile USA has made in the last three years, naming its network as fastest among the four national carriers based on average download speeds.
The “big surprise” was that T-Mobile’s LTE signal nearly matched Verizon for being consistently available to customers’ phones and tablets, the report said. T-Mobile has suffered in some tests that said its network signals were concentrated in urban and suburban areas and less available in rural areas.
“Through its LTE network, T-Mobile is now challenging AT&T and Verizon’s dominance, while Sprint’s 4G service is the source of its continued struggles,” the report said.
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OpenSignal noted that AT&T, which is a leader in the marketplace, fared poorly in the speed tests and its LTE signal was not available to customers as often as LTE signals were for T-Mobile and Verizon customers.
Sprint and AT&T each lagged in OpenSignal’s previous report.
OpenSignal’s report challenges Sprint’s marketing message that all networks are great in 2016 and that consumers should focus on price. Sprint has been running half-off rate plan promotions but has been talking about raising prices in the not-too-distant future because of its network gains.
Tests that OpenSignal relies on are performed on the phones and devices of consumers who download its testing app.
Sprint has fared better in tests performed by RootMetrics, which has Sprint tied for second in Kansas City with T-Mobile, and Sprint has reported favorable results in tests by Nielsen. PC Magazine also declared Sprint’s return to a competitive network as “the story” in its latest testing.
“We find all of the various reports useful, and we think on the whole they tell a strong story about how much Sprint’s network has improved,” Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton said in an email.
In the OpenSignal tests, Sprint did top its rivals in the latency score, which measures delays in the data feed at points along the network. Low latency means an online page starts loading quickly, and Sprint delivered the lowest, or best, latency scores, OpenSignal said.
Better latency performance means the Sprint network has an edge in real-time apps such as voice over internet protocol, or VOIP, and video chat, the report said.
OpenSignal acknowledged that Sprint has made improvements in its network but said the impact has not shown up across the nation. Sprint fared well in speed tests in Cincinnati and Denver, it said.
In Kansas City, T-Mobile and Verizon tied for the availability of their LTE signals, and Verizon posted the fastest speed.