**Editor’s Note: Which is America’s top wireless network? Click here to see what we discovered.**
Determining which mobile carrier has the best network is harder than you might think, especially when dealing with a range of factors such as coverage area, reliability of access and average download speed.
On the surface, Verizon’s LTE is the easiest choice — it covers 303 million people, more than that of its competitors’ LTE networks. Of course, Verizon had a leg up in that department; it started rolling out LTE earlier than rivals AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
And Verizon also has the highest ratings for access time among the big four U.S. carriers. Average users can connect to the LTE network 83 percent of the time, compared to 70 percent for AT&T, 61 percent for T-Mobile and just under 57 percent for Sprint, according to data from OpenSignal – which collects coverage data submitted by users – as quoted by Quartz.
But while Verizon offers the broadest coverage, it’s not the fastest, OpenSignal says. The carrier’s average download speed is 7.8 Mbps, almost twice as fast as Sprint’s 4.3 Mbps but still below AT&T’s 9.1 Mbps and T-Mobile’s 11.5 Mbps.
So depending on how you measure it, different carriers can come out on top. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual user, their wireless preferences, and in many cases, where they live.