T-Mobile and AT&T dominate 2021 5G/4G network speed tests, Verizon slips

T-Mobile’s combination of an expansive low-band 5G network, coupled with its Ultra Capacity to mid-band efforts made possible by the Sprint merger, maintains reap the rewards of 5G speed, like the latest umlaut report (commissioned by Un-carrier) rates it as the fastest 5G network in key markets with average download speeds of 200 Mbps.

While that doesn’t sound terribly impressive compared to the promise of mmWave gigabit networks, Verizon is at 85 Mbps in those same markets, while AT&T at 68 Mbps, as these are the averages in Norfolk, VA; Indianapolis, IN; Detroit, Michigan; San Bernardino and Riverside, California.

T-Mobile takes 5G network speed reign in 2021, where are Verizon and AT&T?

The report comes on the heels of the great PCMag one, however, one where the team traveled thousands of miles in both major metropolitan areas and out into rural areas. Surprise, surprise, this one also clocked T-Mobile as the winner with fastest network in 2021, arguably boosted by the ubiquity of its mid-range 5G coverage.
In rural areas and where 5G is not an option, however, AT&T reigns supreme with faster median 4G speeds for the umpteenth time this year, and these scenarios are happening in much larger areas with coverage beyond T-Mobile’s best efforts, whether on 4G or 5G.
Of course, T-Mobile reads the PCMag report differently, listing only its progress and positive takes since last year’s network tests:
  • T-Mobile won in 24 cities and rural areas and tied in two; AT&T won eight; Verizon only won two.
  • T-Mobile had the fastest average 5G download AND upload speeds.
  • T-Mobile had the most 5G availability.
  • “The availability of 5G from other operators does not really matter, for the moment”
  • “Verizon’s overall speeds declined slightly from 2020 to 2021…possibly due to congestion.”
  • “AT&T’s 5G network results were often slower than its 4G network.”
  • “In 2017, carriers bet on the future of 5G. T-Mobile placed the right… It bought Sprint to take advantage of Sprint’s huge cache of largely unused midband waves and the has all transferred to 5G.”
  • “[T-Mobile’s] range and capacity will only grow as it continues to build and add equipment, and AT&T and Verizon will have to scramble to catch up.”

Verizon, on the other hand, was a bit crowded, as you’d expect from America’s largest carrier, and slipped into the 4G/5G ranks for the first time, even though it still offers 5G mmWave the faster in very limited places.

Kevin M. Risinger