Which Cell Phone Service Has the Fastest Data Speed?
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. 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.
Bottom LineOpenSignal research showed Verizon Wireless had the most consistent high-speed data available. And T-Mobile had the fastest data speeds.
But it also depends on your location!
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?
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.
2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)