Because speeds are not the only important thing to look at when evaluating a mobile network’s overall performance and quality, all the reputable analytics firms conducting frequent such tests and comparisons between Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T have added more and more factors to their research over the last few years to try to provide the most detailed and reliable outlook possible.
Technically, PCMag is not an analytics company in the same vein as, say, Opensignal, RootMetrics, or Ookla, but the tech publication’s slightly less scientific annual reports oddly feel more grounded than what the aforementioned firms tend to produce every three months (or less).
By driving thousands and thousands of miles across America and running speed tests in different corners of any given city (and rural area) at specific intervals of time and on a specific (ultra-high-end) phone, PCMag’s researchers might just replicate a user’s “typical” network experience better than anyone else, especially when also tracking dropped calls.
That’s the key new component of the previously speed-focused study, aiming to assess reliability, well, reliably and conclude which is the best mobile network in the US rather than just the fastest wireless service provider out there.
And the unsurprising winner is…
Magenta had the fastest mobile network in PCMag’s comprehensive 2021 report as well (after losing to Verizon and AT&T in 2020 and 2019 respectively), but what’s remarkable is that almost every sub-section of this year’s more comprehensive than ever analysis is dominated by the same operator.
T-Mo is the absolute speed champion pretty much across the board, reigning supreme as far as top (1.33 Gbps) and average (264.4 Mbps) download numbers are concerned and in terms of average upload figures (32.9 Mbps) too.
These are not 5G-specific results either, which makes them that much more impressive, and on top of everything, the “Un-carrier” rules the latency chart as well while tying its arch-rivals in dropped calls, and somewhat disappointingly, sitting in last place as far as failed data connections are concerned.
Naturally, there’s no such thing as a perfect wireless network (especially in the US), but T-Mobile is coming closer and closer to setting a standard that Verizon and AT&T might physically and logistically be unable to rise to anytime soon.
The secret sauce is of course no secret, with Magenta’s rapidly expanding Ultra Capacity 5G (aka mid-band) signal simply traveling faster and farther than anything the competition can offer even after recent C-band rollouts.
It’s not all bleak for Verizon and AT&T
While T-Mobile continues to hold a massive spectrum lead primarily as a consequence of its 2020 Sprint acquisition, a series of recent FCC auctions have underlined Verizon and AT&T’s intentions to compete in the mid-band arena after foolishly betting on mmWave technology in the early stages of their 5G deployments.
Both Big Red’s UW (Ultra Wideband) and Ma Bell’s 5G+ icons are easier to score on the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S22+ than ever before in the 30 cities and six rural regions covered by PCMag’s testers.
That undeniably helped Verizon take home nine specific city speed crowns and eight overall city titles while also contributing to two and four victories respectively for AT&T, which obviously pales in comparison with T-Mobile’s tally but is not nothing.
AT&T also prevailed in three of the six rural battles included in this report from an overall network performance perspective, while T-Mobile actually had to settle for a lone such regional win, reminding us of Magenta’s major historical weakness. Then again, the “Un-carrier” is apparently making great progress on that front too, especially in the Northeast, while continuing to struggle in the Northwest and Georgia.