Speed test results push back against AT&T’s ‘fastest network’ 5G E claims

Last week, AT & T proudly crowned itself as "the fastest wireless network in the country", driven by Ookla's speed tests and its deceptive name 5G E, that is, the LTE network. But there's only one problem: as Ookla has taken the time to point out in a blog post, AT & T's claim is not as strong as the company's statement.

Now, it is true that AT & T had the fastest average mobile broadband speed in the United States in the first quarter of 2019. But in general In the quarter, the average download speed of AT & T was 34.65 Mbps, only slightly higher than the average speed of 34.11 Mbps of T-Mobile, or 33.07 Mbps of Verizon.

It's part of an uptrend for AT & T, which has spent the last year with dramatically lower rates. that the competitors T-Mobile and Verizon, for a very simple reason: the company was much slower to adopt the newer LTE technologies (things like MIMO, multiple antenna arrays and operator aggregation) than its competitors. As the AT & T network caught up, so did its relative speed tests, to the point where things are now back to neck and neck, as seen in the Ookla chart.


speed test results push back against atts fastest network 5g e claims

However, compare that with the table that AT & T published last week, which records weekly speeds throughout the first quarter of 2019. For most of the quarter, things are still neck and neck, but in the last week, AT & T speeds soar. Was the AT & T network suddenly dramatically faster than the competition? As Ookla explains, no.


speed test results push back against atts fastest network 5g e claims

The AT & T chart lacks an X axis, but apparently it's about tracking speeds per week until Q1 2019
Image: AT & T (through Engadget )

Instead , the company notes that "In the last week of the first quarter, we also observed an increase in the fastest tests performed on the AT & T network." After investigation, we discovered that this was related to the launch of iOS 12.2 and the launch of the 5G E icon from AT & T. "And as Ookla said The Verge last week, the increase in the number of speed tests came specifically after the release of iOS 12.2 (which added the 5G E icon of AT & T ) and specifically of iPhone XR, XS Max, XS, X, 8 and 8 Plus devices (the phones that now show the 5G E service on AT & T).

In other words, iPhone customers at AT & T got the update, They saw the new icon, they did proof It's speed to see what kind of speeds they were getting, and that added a bunch of faster speed test data comparing the AT & T numbers for the last week of Q1. And, as Ookla points out, given that 70 percent of AT & T customers are iPhone users, compared to 49 percent on T-Mobile and 62 percent on Verizon, the impact of iOS users trying to find out if the 5G E was actually faster than the LTE they had the day before (spoiler: it is not) was even more significant.

So yes, the AT & T network has improved, and now it's a little faster than its competitors. But it's not as dramatic an increase as the AT & T announcement would suggest, and presumably, once the numbers begin to normalize again, things will continue to look a little more in the future. And no amount of marketing advertising for 5G E will change that.

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