Not that any of us are really surprised, but Verizon announced today that they are once again the winner of the National RootScore award for overall performance, winning or tying for top overall awards in 48 states.

RootMetrics is an independent mobile analytics firm in Seattle, who scores US wireless providers in six categories: Overall Performance, Reliability, Data, Speed, Call, and Text.

In addition to being given the Overall Performance award, Verizon was ranked highest in Reliability, Speed, Data, and Call categories. The winner of the Text category was AT&T, where all four major US carriers were spread by less than 3 points with 78.8 being the lowest (T-Mobile) and AT&T being the highest with 81.2.

rootmetrics findings

Here is what RootMetrics had to say about the findings of their first-half 2014 study:

During our testing in the first half of 2014, we drove more than 234,000 miles while testing performance in big cities, small towns, and rural areas across the U.S. To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of driving from New York to L.A. 84 times. Since you use your mobile in a variety of conditions, we tested performance while driving, at stationary outdoor locations, and at more than 6,400 indoor locations. All told, we collected more than 5.6 million total samples.

In short, these aren’t anecdotal results or hasty generalizations. Our methodology is designed to characterize network performance and illuminate meaningful differences in network performance with a high level of statistical significance. We use randomized spatial sampling techniques to collect data in an unbiased manner, and we conduct testing over all hours of the day and all days of the week. These are comprehensive, unbiased results that you can trust to give you a complete and accurate picture of mobile network performance across the entirety of the U.S.

As in our last nationwide study, bragging rights once again belong to Verizon in our National RootScore Report. Sweeping overall performance, network reliability, and network speed, Verizon was the top carrier in the categories that point toward the entirety of your mobile experience. Verizon also finished first in our call and data categories. Indeed, the only category that it did not win was text, in which it finished second to AT&T. Keep in mind that in many of our categories, the separation between Verizon and second-place finisher AT&T was small. At the national level, the competition is heating up, and it is an even tighter race than what we saw in the second half of 2013.

In a significant reversal from our last study, Verizon pulled away from AT&T in our Network Speed Index during the first half of 2014. Perhaps in part due to its rollout of AWS spectrum as part of its XLTE offering, Verizon appears to be getting faster and offered consumers the best speeds at the national level. Keep in mind that although AT&T was the slower network in this round of testing, things can change rapidly. After all, last year we saw Verizon slowing down, but it has now leapfrogged back into the lead. At the national level, the networks can largely be divided into two tiers of performance: AT&T and Verizon finished as the top two networks in every category, with Sprint and T-Mobile trailing. Though AT&T trailed Verizon, its performance was noticeably better than what we saw from Sprint and T-Mobile at the national level. That being said, Sprint and T-Mobile have started to close the gap. The good news for consumers is that both networks are clearly improving—especially in our overall, data, and reliability performance categories.

T-Mobile’s improvement is also clearly seen when looking closely at how it compared to Sprint in our last study versus this round of testing. In the second half of 2013, T-Mobile finished last in five out of our six categories. This time, T-Mobile jumped over Sprint and finished in third place in four categories. While the separation between the bottom two networks was small in most categories, T- Mobile did clearly outperform Sprint in our Network Speed Index. Sprint’s bottom-ranked finish, however, could be short-lived: as Sprint continues its tri-band Spark™ rollout, its speeds could shift into a higher gear.

If you are primarily a data user or if reliability is most important to you, it’s worth noting that Sprint and T-Mobile markedly trailed the top two networks in our data category and our Network Reliability Index at the national level.

Text proved to be the category with the smallest separation among the four networks, with all carriers performing strongly. AT&T, though, edged out the competition and earned honors as the nation’s best network for texting.RootMetrics

RootMetrics Study Summary

In short, Verizon took the cake for the first half of 2014, but it was obvious that they saw improvements from all of the carriers, saying that in general the race has tightened among all of the carriers since RootMetrics’ last study in the second half of 2013.

Verizon pulled away from AT&T in speed and T-Mobile jumped Sprint in four categories compared to their second half 2013 study, giving them 3rd place in five categories, compared to only once in RootMetrics’ last study.

Source: Verizon Wireless, RootMetrics Report

About the author

Nick Schiwy

Nick is an tech enthusiast, programmer and general geek. He works full time in the IT field but still has plenty of time to keep up with all of the tech gossip that is going around!