T-Mobile’s Network Still Lags Rivals’ Despite Lead in 5G Service


T-Mobile US Inc. is lagging behind Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. in the reliability, availability and speed of its wireless network, despite the company’s lead in new 5G services, a report concluded.

While showing solid improvement over 2020 results, T-Mobile still placed third among the largest U.S. wireless carriers, according to RootMetrics, which ran nearly 3 million tests in 3,000 U.S. locations in the first half of 2021.

Overall ScoreSpeed (Mbps)ReliabilityAccessibility

The last-place finish contrasts with T-Mobile’s drive to use its industry-leading airwave capacity to leapfrog its rivals in 5G network service. The company, the No. 2 wireless carrier, has a one-year head start on Verizon and AT&T after having acquired a large trove of midband airwaves last year with its $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint.

“We are really starting to pull away from the pack like we told you we would,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Sievert told investors in May.

T-Mobile has said it’s getting high marks from other testing services, like Ookla and Open Signal. Also, RootMetrics’ report looked at the companies’ overall performances, not just their emerging 5G services.

5G Race

The back-of-the-pack status for Bellevue, Washington-based T-Mobile “could change going forward if the carrier adds more towers outside of urban areas as it continues to aggressively integrate Sprint’s highly beneficial midband spectrum into its 5G service,” RootMetrics’ analysts said in the report Wednesday.

All three carriers are feverishly racing to build out faster, more capacious 5G networks to serve future growth businesses like driverless taxis, and the competition has intensified this year as Verizon and AT&T sharpen their focus on network expansion.

Verizon spent $45 billion on midband airwaves at a federal auction and agreed in May to sell its Yahoo and AOL online media business. Similarly, AT&T picked up midband airwaves at the auction and agreed to spin off its DirecTV and WarnerMedia divisions to concentrate on wireless and broadband.

RootMetrics expects to report the results of a 5G-specific performance study in the coming weeks.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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