Verizon remains best-performing network, new report says

The return of unlimited data plans from the nation’s big four wireless carriers hasn’t hurt network performance, according to the latest report from RootMetrics.

For the first half of 2017, the testing firm reported that all four major wireless carriers improved their median network speeds in at least 20 markets. AT&T saw improvement in 51 metro markets, and T-Mobile in 73 markets. Sprint also continued to see big gains in performance. The companies all improved the percentage of markets that can get downloads of more than 20 megabits per second.

The increased network speeds in more markets comes at a time when competition in the wireless market is heating up. Each of the major carriers has reintroduced unlimited data plans as a lure to steal customers from competitors. In January, T-Mobile went all-in on its unlimited option, removing all other options. AT&T and Sprint also touted their own all-you-can-eat options. Then in February, Verizon quietly brought back its own unlimited plan for the first time in seven years.

“The fact that all carriers improved their median download speeds in 20 markets or more suggests that regardless of what is happening with data plans, the carriers are taking steps to mitigate any negatives from increased demand,” said Annette Hamilton, director at Root Metrics.  

For the eighth time in a row, Verizon Wireless ranked No. 1 nationally in overall performance, reliability, speed, data and calls. AT&T took second place, while Sprint was third and T-Mobile ranked fourth.

But T-Mobile argues that the move to unlimited data has taken a toll on AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks, resulting in slower download speeds for consumers. In a blog post last week, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said his company has the fastest wireless network in the U.S.

“The real news is how dramatically both AT&T and Verizon’s networks have caved since making unlimited available to their customers — all while T-Mobile’s network has continued to soar,”…

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