For our regional analysis we examined our Download and Upload Speed Experience, Latency Experience and 4G Availability results in 71 large U.S. cities, and we parsed our Video Experience results in 59 of those same markets. While we typically see city-level awards mirror our national awards, in this report we encountered several surprises. The fastest, most nimble and most accessible operators at the national level often weren't the same leaders on a city-by-city basis.
That trend was most prominent in our Download Speed Experience metric, where the third-placed operator nationally, AT&T, wound up winning a good deal of the city-level awards. In Download Speed Experience, AT&T won the award outright in 14 cities and drew for the win in an additional 24. In comparison, national award winner T-Mobile had 11 solo wins and 22 draws, while Verizon racked up 13 outright wins and 26 shared wins.
- AT&T's 4G network enhancements are really starting to show their might in the metropolitan areas where it's been deployed. For instance, in Pennsylvania's two major cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, AT&T had the third and fourth fastest individual Download Speed Experience results in our measurements of 39.8 Mbps and 37.9 Mbps respectively.
T-Mobile and Verizon, though, aren't to be trifled with when it comes to speed. Verizon not only had the fastest individual Download Speed Experience score of all the cities we analysed, but that result was also in the largest U.S. metro: 42.4 Mbps in New York City. We recorded the second fastest city-level Download Speed Experience score of 40.2 Mbps for T-Mobile in Grand Rapids.
Our Upload Speed Experience and Latency Experience results were just as topsy-turvy. While T-Mobile won our national upload award, Verizon took the lion's share of our city-level awards, winning our Upload Speed Experience prize in 31 markets compared to T-Mobile's nine.
We also saw some impressive individual Upload Speed Experience scores on Verizon's urban networks. Our Verizon users were able to access average overall upload speeds greater than 10 Mbps in eight cities, including major markets like New York City and Chicago.
In Latency Experience, we recorded a draw between AT&T and T-Mobile for our national award, but AT&T ran the table in our city-level results. It led outright in our Latency Experience metric in 28 metros and shared the award in an additional 25. What we're most likely seeing is a knock-on effect from AT&T's LTE-Advanced upgrades affecting the same cities that enjoy boosted download speeds. These enhancements, designed to add capacity and throughput in urban areas, are cutting down on network response time as well. AT&T even managed to bring its Latency Experience score below the 40ms milestone in numerous markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Houston and San Francisco.
Where we saw the national results align most closely with regional results was in our remaining two metrics. Verizon matched its national 4G Availability win with solo awards in 31 cities and shared awards in a further 39 markets. No other operator won a 4G Availability award outright in the remaining cities, though T-Mobile presented Verizon with the most competition, with the two operators tying for first place in 39 markets.
Finally, it would be no exaggeration to state that Verizon utterly dominated our regional Video Experience category. It won our Video Experience award outright in 56 of the 59 cities in our analysis, and in the remaining three it was tied for the lead with T-Mobile. Verizon also managed to boost its Video Experience score beyond its national average in 95% of the cities analyzed. In one case, Anchorage, it elevated its score to a Very Good rating (65-75), which indicates short video load times and few interruptions during playback, even at high resolutions.
Verizon's competitors saw their Video Experience scores improve on the city level as well, just not to the extent of the leader. Only in nine cases did either AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile land a Good Video Experience rating in any of the cities we analyzed. Verizon's loftier scores, both nationally and locally, present it with a significant opportunity as the mobile phone becomes an increasingly important TV screen. Operators in the U.S. are trying to balance consumers’ desires for inexpensive mobile data plans — and the barrage of video streaming that accompanies them — with the need to manage the traffic loads on their networks. For the time being at least, Verizon seems to have found a sweet spot where it can keep data consumption in check while still providing a higher quality Video Experience.
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