According to Roometrics’ latest data for the second half of 2014, if you are a customer of AT&T (NYSE: T), T-Mobile (NYSE: TMUS) or Verizon (NYSE: VZ) you are going to get about exactly the same experience. However, if you go with Sprint (NYSE: S), you will suffer some performance or coverage issues. That means, when you compare AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile you can do so knowing that your experience will essentially be around the same in San Diego and that you can buy based on value rather than ‘marketing’ from the carriers.
Traditionally, Verizon and AT&T are the most expensive, with T-Mobile coming in much cheaper, so if you are considering a new phone, you should probably look at T-Mobile before renewing your contract with AT&T and Verizon. Especially if you consider the fact that T-Mobile’s phone selection is just as good as or better than both Verizon and AT&T, even though AT&T does have a lot of exclusives. AT&T’s exclusives, however, can easily be purchased outright and get an unlock code and then you can activate it on T-Mobile. And if you’re happy with your phone and your contract is up on AT&T, you can very likely switch to T-Mobile without any issues and probably save $20-$30 a month, minimum and regain unlimited data, which AT&T doesn’t have.
Unfortunately for Sprint, they seriously lagged in reliability and data performance, which are the two major factors of why their score is so much lower than the rest of the carriers. Even though, if you looked at the scores of all four San Diego carriers you would realize that there really isn’t that much of a difference, even if you add Sprint. But, if you look at the observed data speeds from some of the carriers, there are some significant differences. Perhaps Rootmetrics’ Rootscore needs to re-weight certain factors like download speed more heavily over call quality, etc.
Rootmetrics measures their ‘coverage’ as a factor of reliability and speed, with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile tying for reliability and Verizon and AT&T coming in as tied for speed, even though the difference between the three scores is 0.4 out of 100, or less than 1%. It makes you wonder why this wouldn’t be considered a three-way tie. Especially when you look at the differences in speeds.
According to Rootmetrics’ testing AT&T’s median download speed increased from 12.1 to 14.3 Mbps since the march testing. Sprint’s median download speed decreased from 7.5 Mbps to 5.2 Mbps and their upload suffered a drop from 3.2 to 1.1 Mbps, a very poor showing. T-Mobile’s median download speed also decreased from 17.3 Mbps to 15.3 Mbps, but still came in higher than AT&T’s. Curiously enough, Rootmetrics had Verizon win the Data RootScore award for the second consecutive time with the fastest median download speed of 18.4 Mbps while T-Mobile recorded the fastest median upload speed of 15.1 Mbps. This is where it gets interesting. If T-Mobile has the fastest upload speeds and the second fastest download speeds, why would they be ranked below AT&T in the Rootmetrics Speed Index? We will reach out to Rootmetrics to understand exactly what this means for San Diego carriers because it simply doesn’t make sense at AT&T would have a higher score than T-Mobile if T-Mobile actually has faster speeds for both upload and download.
Here are some of their scores, including data performance which varies from their ‘speed index’ every so slightly and somehow puts AT&T above T-Mobile even though T-Mobile has faster speeds according to their own tests. Either way, call performance is essentially the same and so is text performance even though T-Mobile and Verizon slightly edge out AT&T and Sprint.
What we can conclude from all of this, even with a few slight irregularities is that T-Mobile is still the best value in San Diego and Sprint is still the slowest in almost every measurement.