Best Mobile Network In Atlanta – Saša Segana Saša Segana Lead Analyst, My Mobile I’m a 5G Person. I’m here for every “G”. In 18 years of full-time work, I’ve analyzed over a thousand products, including every generation of iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S. I also write a weekly newsletter, Fully Geared, where I talk about phones and networks. Read the full letter
It’s finally T-Mobile’s year. The carrier’s new 5G network is faster than the country’s only 5G 4G, giving T-Mobile the first award for the fastest mobile network in the United States.
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In our 12th annual test, drivers drove 10,626 miles in 30 large US metro areas and six rural areas to find 5G coverage from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. T-Mobile took the lead in 5G, winning 24 cities and rural areas to AT&T’s eight and Verizon’s two; We also saw a tie between T-Mobile and Verizon and a tie between T-Mobile and AT&T.
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Click on the map above or scroll down to see specific winners and neighborhood check locations for each of our cities. (Need a fast mobile network north of the border? Check out Canada’s fastest mobile networks.)
Why go to all this effort? Since millions of people have to choose between cell phones and carriers, the best option for you depends on your location.
Almost every American adult now owns a cell phone. According to Statista(opens in new window), there were approximately 294 million mobile phone users in the US in 2020; By comparison, the US Census (opens in new window) that year estimated there were 258 million adults in the country.
All these phones need to be connected to networks. After the T-Mobile and Sprint merger, we now have three major players in the United States. They all put up billboards advertising their 4G and 5G networks with the words “higher,” “faster,” and “securer.” In 2010, when smartphones became popular, we started benchmarking mobile networks to help people choose a carrier based on advertising.
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Since then, many tests and awards have been developed. They all have their uses. Our mission is equality and transparency. We use the same devices, in the same places, at the same time to ensure that the network is the same difference. Then we go to do the tests, tell the neighbors exactly what we did there. Sometimes we even say what we had for dinner. We want to help you make a delivery choice you are confident in based on accurate local information.
For the first time this year, T-Mobile appears to have that option. The secret to T-Mobile’s success isn’t much of a secret: It’s what T-Mobile calls “high capacity” spectrum for 5G. Now covering more than 165 million people in cities large and small, these wireless networks (acquired through the Sprint acquisition) enable T-Mobile’s network to deliver download speeds of 150Mbps to 500Mbps. This will outpace AT&T and Verizon’s 5G in most areas and ensure T-Mobile’s success.
A faster download speed signals more capacity on the network. T-Mobile’s growing capacity has allowed it to launch Magenta Max, the country’s first unlimited, non-priority 5G plan and unlimited local broadband for $60 a month.
If you’re a T-Mobile customer and you’re not seeing these results, it’s probably for one of two reasons. First, to join T-Mobile’s new wild ride, you need a 5G phone; T-Mobile 4G is still not competitive. Looking at 4G results alone, T-Mobile dominated AT&T nationwide overall. If you’re using a 4G phone, chances are your T-Mobile service is great.
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And if you live in a rural area and aren’t used to commuting to the city, T-Mobile may not be the carrier for you. The carrier is doing well in the country’s major metro areas, but looking at smaller cities and areas away from major interstates, especially in the western United States, it’s clear that T-Mobile needs to work harder to provide better coverage. AT&T dominates these areas as well.
If you haven’t upgraded your phone or checked your plan in the past few years, you’ll be surprised how different the world will be in 2021.
Simply put, T-Mobile is lagging behind the competition in terms of 4G and 5G deployment. Then the mid lane changed the whole game,
Even in cities where it’s covered, T-Mobile 5G isn’t everywhere. But it covers enough ground in those cities to make a real difference, and the coverage is improving every month. This chart shows how often our T-Mobile 5G phone was using 5G in each city and region we tested, from 90% of the time in Chicago to just 36% of the time in New Orleans. (But T-Mobile still wins in New Orleans because 5G isn’t generally available there.)
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Verizon’s millimeter wave 5G is the fastest 5G in the US. We saw speeds in excess of 2 Gbps on Verizon’s network. But Verizon’s mmWave isn’t big enough to make a difference to most customers, and it’s growing slowly. Verizon says it’s expanding coverage, but our test found the same amount of mmWave as last year: 3.27% of area tests in 2021, compared to 2.82% in 2020. (Due to 2020 AIDS travel restrictions, these numbers are not comparable.)
Dedicated 5G broadband or no broadband, Verizon’s “Nationwide 5G” uses a technology called DSS (Distributed Distribution System), which accepts 4G channels for 5G service. Last year, we found that the DSS system killed Verizon’s 5G plan because it was inefficient and unregulated. Verizon fixed the issues this year, and 5G connections are generally slightly faster than 4G. You don’t need to turn off 5G again, which we advised people to do late last year.
However, Verizon’s overall speeds are down slightly from 2020 to 2021, possibly due to congestion. Nationwide, Verizon seems to have less capacity than the other two carriers right now, so it hasn’t joined T-Mobile and AT&T in offering true unlimited plans. This underscores the importance of Verizon rolling out C-band 5G next year. Check out the best and worst cities for Verizon 5G to learn more.
AT&T’s 4G network lacks many 5G features. In most places, AT&T creates thin 5G channels alongside their 4G to bring you that 5G signal. We also found small patches of AT&T mmWave in some cities, but not enough to be noticeable.
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AT&T wins Best 4G Network of 2019 award. In 2020, Verizon’s mmWave 5G will be a near miss as it gives Verizon a slight edge. In our 2021 tests, we found that AT&T’s 5G network results were often slower than 4G network results, so we generally use 4G results as the best network rating. AT&T’s 4G network is still good, but hasn’t shown much improvement over the past year.
If you’re on T-Mobile or Metro and don’t have a 5G phone, you should get one now. The good news is that almost every 5G phone sold by carriers supports the midband, and most phones are cheap. Everything from the iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S21 to the OnePlus Nord N200 will have great speeds on the T-Mobile network. For more recommendations, check out our roundup of the best T-Mobile phones.
If you’re on AT&T or Verizon, the change won’t be immediate. 4G phones available from both mobile operators will give you strong and fast coverage across the country. If you buy a new phone, make sure you get one with C-band, the mid-band 5G system that will make all the difference for both AT&T and Verizon starting next year. To learn more about this upgrade, check out our favorite 5G phones. As an aside, if you don’t want to leave your old phone, check the mobile operator’s fastest cities for 4G.
We saw something similar happen in 3G and 4G. AT&T dominated the 3G era because, unlike Verizon, it opted for a global standard (GSM) technology that had a solid path forward. Verizon then put all its chips on 4G LTE and won the award for fastest mobile network every year from 2011 to 2018.
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Then Verizon got confused or misled by the promise of mmWave 5G in 2018. It’s not their fault; mmWave was sold by the FCC at the time. But it turns out that mmWave has a short range and is difficult to build. It’s a great network if you can find it, but you won’t find it very often. I have typically seen a radius of 800 to 1000 feet per tower with mm wave.
T-Mobile, on the other hand, has a smarter (and more successful) game. He bought Sprint to take advantage