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How much of a toll are T-Mobile’s moves taking on AT&T?

Published Mar 16th, 2015 8:45PM EDT
T-Mobile Vs. AT&T LTE Speeds

T-Mobile’s mobile network — and in particular its coverage in non-urban areas — remains its biggest weakness. That said, T-Mobile’s strategy right now seems to be to concentrate on improving its mobile data network in urban areas where it’s shown huge improvements over the past couple of years. T-Mobile’s aggressive “Un-carrier” moves have also forced rivals to play defense by making similar moves of their own and new analysis from BTIG Research suggests that this is taking a particularly big toll on AT&T.

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Taking a look at some new data published last week by OpenSignal, BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk notices that while all major carriers’ LTE networks have posted slower speeds over the last year, the drop has been particularly steep at AT&T, which saw its download speeds fall from 9.1Mbps last April to 6.5Mbps this month. Piecyk isn’t surprised by this at all because he thinks it’s a result of AT&T’s aggressive efforts to outflank T-Mobile.

“AT&T has been the most aggressive at promoting lower prices on higher shared data plans ever since its price-cut back in February of 2014,” he writes. “AT&T basically made it cheaper to move to a 10 GB data share plan than lower usage alternatives in its mass voluntary migration of customers to Mobile Share Value… It’s hard not to conclude that these promotions are having an impact on AT&T’s network and were a driver in its $18 billion of winning bids in the AWS-3 auction.”

As for T-Mobile, Piecyk notes that it has experienced the smallest drop off in LTE download speed among the major four carriers, which he attributes to “the cell density it has achieved in the big cities, where capacity is needed the most” and also because it’s “increased many of its LTE data channels to wider 15×15 MHz from 10×10 MHz.”

Check out Piecyk’s full analysis by clicking here.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.