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T-Mobile now has fastest LTE download speeds of four big carriers, study shows

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

For a long time, T-Mobile has been on the lower end of the big four carriers in terms of connectivity and speed. The Un-carrier has come a long way — it’s now rates the second highest in customer satisfaction, according to a recent survey, and offers the fastest LTE downloads in the U.S., according to a new study by OpenSignal.

It’s a close match, though, as Verizon’s average speed is only 0.4 megabits behind T-Mobile’s 16.3 Mbps, at 15.9 Mbps. AT&T logged in average speeds of 12.3 Mbps, and Sprint came last with a poor 9.4 Mbps. On 3G connections, T-Mobile and AT&T led the pack with the fastest average download speeds, at 4.59 Mbps and 3.01 Mbps, respectively.

Related: Don’t sweat picking a data plan: Let T-Mobile’s Smart Fit do the work for you

Verizon did get a win in the availability category, though — its customers were able to jump onto LTE networks 85.6 percent of the time. But even in this category, T-Mobile nets another win by surpassing AT&T — the “un-carrier’s” subscribers are able to find LTE networks 83.2 percent of the time, while AT&T sat at 80 percent. Sprint has dismal 4G LTE availability of only 69.85 percent.

“For the last year, T-Mobile has been dispensing with the notion that it’s merely an urban-focused operator by building new 4G networks in rural areas,” the report says. “It’s also made use of recently acquired 700 MHz airwaves to give those networks more reach. 700 MHz’s low frequencies mean signals propagate further in rural areas and penetrate deeper into buildings in urban areas — two factors that help explain its rising availability ranking.”

It’s not all bad news for Sprint, as the carrier did win the 4G latency category, meaning that web pages rendered more quickly. AT&T had the highest 4G latency count, putting it in last place.

Related: Verizon added 615,000 postpaid subscribers in second quarter, but revenues disappointed

OpenSignal’s study shows a regional list of how well the big four carriers did in 4G availability and download speeds. In the New York-Newark-Jersey City area, Verizon won in availability but T-Mobile reigned in average 4G download speeds of 20.41 Mbps. Overall, most of the wins in both categories for the various regions go to T-Mobile and Verizon, but AT&T has its fair share.

OpenSignal says the test was conducted by collecting 2,818,124,916 datapoints from 120,586 users between May 1 and July 10. The data is collected from OpenSignal’s iOS and Android app.