The fifth OpenSignal “State of Mobile Networks” report took into account about 6 billion measurements from 237,213 U.S. smartphone users, sampled between Oct. 1 to Dec. 30 of 2017 (Q4)
Compared to a year ago, when T-Mobile and Verizon were neck and neck for 4G LTE download speed — 16.65 Mbps and 16.89 Mbps, respectively — T-Mobile pulled ahead with an average download speed of 19.42 Mbps compared to 17.77 Mbps on Verizon.
Two megabits per second may not seem like much of a lead, but it could mean the difference between successfully downloading a video or not.
AT&T and Sprint ate dust, coming in third and fourth place, with 13.27 Mbps and 12.02 Mbps downloads, respectively.
OpenSignal attributes T-Mobile’s lead to Verizon and AT&T’s reintroduction of unlimited plans last year.
After introducing unlimited data plans over the past two years, all of the carriers have been spending to improve their 4G LTE networks, some by adding more cellular transmitters and some by adding connections in new spectrum bands. T-Mobile has been doing both, adding thousands of smaller cell sites while putting online new airwave licenses it won last year in the 600 MHz band. The carriers are also preparing to deploy the next generation of even faster equipment, known as 5G.