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AT&T maintains narrow 5G speed lead, but T-Mobile is catching up: RootMetrics

Pixel 4a 5G display
Pixel 4a 5G display (Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • AT&T has the best Everyday 5G download speeds in 85 tested markets.
  • T-Mobile has the greatest 5G availability and also has the best single speed result at nearly 200Mbps.
  • Verizon has the most reliable network while gaining ground on AT&T's download speeds in several cities.

RootMetrics measures mobile network performance by testing the 125 most populated metros in the U.S. every six months and with its June 5G scorecard, 85 markets have been tested. RootMetrics tests not only speed but availability and reliability to give users an idea of how well each network performs.

RootMetrics is now reporting Everyday 5G performance. This is a combination of 5G-only results and 5G mixed mode results. Much of the time, a 5G device will stay connected to LTE even when a 5G signal is present. The device may also drop to LTE for a second or two when a device moves from one tower to another. This is called mixed mode and is a common behavior for 5G devices and will likely go completely unnoticed by the user.

When it comes to pure network speed, AT&T stays ahead overall with the best Everyday 5G download speeds in 15 cities. For this metric, AT&T needed the fastest overall 5th percentile, median, and 95th percentile in the same cities. This means that even slower results are factored into the final score meaning AT&T not only delivered high speeds but delivered them consistently. Verizon came in second for the download result with 11 cities including two of the 20 new cities. T-Mobile took third place with just eight cities.

T-Mobile took the top spot for Everyday 5G availability adding 13 of the 20 new cities for a total of 53. Thanks to T-Mobile's huge 5G coverage, it also has the greatest number of cities with 5G overall. This is well ahead of AT&T with 27 cities and Verizon with just seven. T-Mobile did manage to snag the fastest Everyday 5G median download speed at 195.8Mbps. T-Mobile has the fastest median download speed in 19 of the 20 new cities tested. Much of this is thanks to the strong performance of T-Mobile's mid-band spectrum. This capacity will prove useful as many of the best cell phone plans rely on T-Mobile's 5G network.

Verizon has the best Everyday 5G reliability with 64 cities, 17 of which were new. This measures the ability to get connected and stay connected in the same city. AT&T isn't far off with 48 cities while T-Mobile only got 11 cities.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

3 Comments
  • They need to split it up into low band, mid band and high band. Since there are significant coverage areas and download speeds differences per band.
    Its not like LTE where it was truly lumped into one type.
  • This is a good point but LTE wasn't all that simple either. Starting with the FDD and TDD transition and then developments like CA, there were some pretty big differences. Not to mention that Sprint did deploy part of its band 41 2.5GHz spectrum as LTE which is now being considered high-capacity mid-band spectrum by T-Mobile.
  • I have TMobile and get 5g almost everywhere my friend with AT&T doesn't get any so glad I left that carrier but they are better than Verizon