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Sprint made gains on both the state and metro levels and AT&T deployed the most LTE spectrum in metro markets, but Verizon remained dominant on measures of network coverage and reliability in RootMetrics’ latest report for the second half of 2016.

According to RootMetrics, Sprint made significant headway on the state and metro levels, earning 80 more metro awards than it did in the first half of the year (for a total of 246) and 23 more state-level awards than in the prior six months (for a total of 34). The firm noted that for the first time, Sprint “won or shared more Call RootScore Awards than any other carrier in our metro area testing” and delivered “particularly strong” results during text testing as well. Further, the carrier’s metro award total was within striking range of T-Mobile’s, which fell by 90 awards to just 270 in the second half of the year.

But Sprint’s tallies still paled in comparison to the awards earned by competitors Verizon and AT&T, which took home 658 and 372 metro awards, respectively. The carriers also won or shared 278 and 92 state-level awards, respectively, out of a total of 300.

The report noted AT&T deployed the greatest amount of LTE spectrum among all carriers across the 125 markets tested for the report, which the firm said helped boost AT&T’s median download speeds and reliability results.

However, Verizon swept top honors in all six categories – overall, reliability, speed, data, call, and text – on the national level for the second half of the year. Its overall score of 93.9 edged out AT&T’s score of 90.5, and handily beat Sprint and T-Mobile’s respective scores of 84.7 and 81.2. AT&T was in second place in five of the six categories, falling behind Sprint in the call category. AT&T, though, nearly tied Sprint in the text category as well, with a score of 95.3 to Sprint’s 95.0. T-Mobile was hot on AT&T’s heels in third place in the speed category, with a score of 87.1 to AT&T’s 89.6. The Un-carrier also took third in the data category.

Credit: RootMetrics

Verizon naturally heralded the report’s findings, with Chief Wireless Network Officer Nicola Palmer calling the results “absolutely overwhelming.”

“Only Verizon’s network offers superior performance, unrivaled reliability, and the best speeds for customers making it the best option for unlimited data plans,” Palmer commented. “We are extending our lead in network performance in the top 125 Metro areas and in state and national network performance results.”

T-Mobile, by contrast, blasted the report as a biased view from “paid consultants” and pointed to performance measures from OpenSignal, Twin Prime, and Speedtest.net for “real” results.

“Today, everyone is walking around with a frickin’ supercomputer in their pocket, and those smartphones can now tell us almost everything about network performance – with more granularity, better personalization, and billions more data samples. But, that doesn’t stop Verizon from living in the past,” T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote in a blog post. “Tests by actual customers and everyday smartphone users tell us what kind of experience our real customers are getting now (hint: it’s pretty damn good and pretty damn fast at T-Mobile). And they tell us that our investment to double T-Mobile’s coverage and reach 99 percent as many people as Verizon with a faster LTE network is paying off.”

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