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AT&T has this year’s fastest US mobile network (thanks to those misleading ‘5GE’ upgrades)

June 21st, 2019 at 3:05 PM
Fastest mobile network

Thanks in part to its confusingly (some would say misleadingly) labeled LTE upgrades, AT&T has just been crowned by PCMag as having the fastest mobile network in the US.

The distinction comes as a result of the magazine’s annual speed-focused matchup of the various wireless carriers. As always, it’s important to point out in a comparison like this that you should take the results with a grain of salt, which is putting it mildly.

Measuring performance and overall quality of cellphone networks is, at the risk of sounding overly simplistic, incredibly complicated. Think about it. Studies like PCMag’s are trying to quantify a mobile network that spans the entire country, which encompasses all kinds of terrain in addition to rural areas as well as jam-packed cities and which works on thousands of different devices.

Measuring a network in that way, then assigning scores to the wireless carriers in an easy-to-understand manner before publishing a report that’s not dense enough that the general public can’t understand it — it’s basically impossible.

Nevertheless, companies keep trying, so here we are. PCMag for its test had employees drive through 30 cities across half of the US (25 states) and run in excess of 60,000 mobile speed tests. They did so using Galaxy S10 phones that were constantly running tests on the big four networks.

You can view the full results here, but in summary:

Image source: PCMag

AT&T either won or tied for the top spot in half of the 30 cities the PCMag crew tested. As you can see in the map above, AT&T was also the overall winner in most regions of the country.

AT&T’s improvement of its LTE network, which has resulted in that misleading 5GE label you might have heard about or are even seeing now on your own device, helped it beat Verizon for the top overall spot in this study. For the first time in five years, we should add. In addition to AT&T’s own improvement, however, the PCMag results also show that all of the big networks showed overall improvement over 2018 when it comes to speed and reliability.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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