Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Does your cell phone data speed change when you travel?
There’s terrific research that analyzes which cell phone service providers have the fastest and most available data coverage in different regions throughout the US.
OpenSignal is a company with an app that gathers data from customers with the 4 major cell phone companies: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. And based on recent analysis, OpenSignal has released a report showing the availability and speed of data for the 4 companies.
I’ll explain the findings!
What Does the Data Say?
The OpenSignal analysis measured data in 6 categories to compare the 4 major US cell phone service companies.
In terms of consistent available high speed data, Verizon Wireless ranked highest. OpenSignal measures this by collecting the amount of time users are connected to high speed service. This can be affected if you’re inside or in a rural area.
If you’re looking for fast download speeds, T-Mobile ranked highest. Verizon Wireless was a very close 2nd place.
But it also depends on your location!
For example, the research showed Verizon Wireless customers here in Austin have the most consistent high speed data available. But AT&T has the fastest download speeds.
In other regions, T-Mobile was fastest in New York City. While Verizon Wireless was fastest in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
On a recent trip to New York City, Million Mile Secrets team member Scott was able to connect his laptop to the internet at a good speed using his T-Mobile phone service.
Is the Data Reliable?
The data was gathered from ~120,000 OpenSignal users in the US over a 2-month period from May 1, 2016, to July 10, 2016. This represents a very small percentage of total cell phone users. Because I’ve read there are an estimated 300 million+ cell phones in the US.
Also, the research concludes which cell phone service is fastest and most available in 31 metro areas in the US. But there are no details on how many users were analyzed in each of these areas.
Contribute to the Research & Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots
OpenSignal collects data for their research from users who use the free OpenSignal app.
The app lets you test the speed of your data connection in real-time. Then, compare it to other data providers in that location.
OpenSignal also lets you find free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the world. So you don’t have to worry about using your cell phone data when you’re traveling.
Which Service Should You Choose?
Link: Project Fi
Link: Verizon Wireless
Deciding on a cell phone service depends on many factors like cost, your location, data usage, and the amount you travel in the US and abroad.
But certain cell phone service providers have added extra perks to help you save money on your monthly bill. For example, with certain plans, T-Mobile allows you to stream video programs, like YouTube, without using your high speed data allowance.
Million Mile Secrets team member Scott is very pleased with T-Mobile because of unlimited data streaming, free international text messaging, and good reception while traveling abroad to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe in 2016.
And team member Keith used T-Mobile on his around-the-world honeymoon to 5 countries. He didn’t have to get a special plan and he was able to send messages and use social media.
Project Fi is my preferred cell phone service because it’s affordable and reliable. And I can use it internationally without changing my plan or worrying about roaming charges.
What Y’all Have Reported
Million Mile Secrets readers have also given great feedback on cell phone services!
For example, reader JD commented that he likes T-Mobile because he can use an iPhone and the service works great, even in Europe.
And Arlington Travler mentioned Sprint has great options for unlimited text and data plans when you’re traveling internationally.
Before switching your service, consider the monthly cost and plan options. You could save money with certain T-Mobile plans if you like to stream videos. Because they don’t count streaming toward your data allowance.
Or consider Project Fi. I recently switched and have been loving the service!
Which cell phone service do you prefer?