Verizon Wireless and AT&T are battling it out in the LTE wars, with both carriers receiving impressive scores in RootMetrics' latest 77-market study.
According to the study, which is offered in a consumer-friendly format, AT&T’s LTE network, which is younger and presumably less loaded than Verizon Wireless', saw the fastest speeds in the study, while Verizon's network was most readily available in more markets.
At 18.6 Mbps, AT&T's LTE offered the fastest pure LTE download speed of any carrier, outpacing Verizon’s mark of 14.3 Mbps for LTE-only download. AT&T also offered the highest outstanding average upload, coming in at 9 Mbps. Sprint averaged 10.3 Mbps for LTE download and 4.4 Mbps for LTE upload.
RootMetrics also recorded some wild maximum upload and download speeds. According to the report, AT&T averaged a maximum download speed of 57.7 Mbps and a maximum upload speed of 19.6 Mbps. The report cautions that maximum speeds cannot be sustained by any carrier’s network and that because maximum speeds are so variable, users might find better or worse maximum speeds than these.
Verizon bested the rest of the pack in the likelihood of accessing LTE.
"Verizon’s advantage in being the first major carrier to market with LTE clearly shows when comparing the size of LTE footprints," the report states.
At 93.2 percent, RootMetrics had a better than 9 out of 10 chance of accessing Verizon's LTE service. That compares to an 81.7 percent chance of grabbing an LTE connection with AT&T and a 50.2 percent chance with Sprint. T-Mobile didn't offer LTE service in 2012 so this stat was not available.
Interestingly, Verizon Wireless' non-LTE legacy networks were the slowest out of all four major carriers. The carrier saw just 0.9 Mbps for average download and 0.7 Mbps for average upload.
RootMetrics downplayed that result in its report.
"Relax-you can pick your jaw up off the floor. As we show below, Verizon’s LTE footprint is extensive, in many cases erasing concerns about how your speed will be impacted on their legacy network," the report states. "In short, Verizon is the slowest when you aren’t on LTE, but you are almost always on their LTE network and this makes the slower speeds an almost non-existent concern for the typical consumer."