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Verizon Again Takes Overall US Title, AT&T Close Runner-Up in RootMetrics US Mobile Performance Study

BELLEVUE, Wash., Aug. 18, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- • Verizon wins five out of six US awards
• AT &T wins in text, places second in every other US category
• Sprint takes third in US overall performance with improved call results
• T-Mobile remains strong in highly populated areas

RootMetrics®, the standard for independent mobile performance information, today released the results from its 1st Half 2015 US Mobile Network Performance Review, the industry's most comprehensive study of mobile network performance. In addition to overall performance rankings, the report shows which networks provided the most reliable and fastest experience, as well as each network's performance across data, call and text testing.

This is the fourth time RootMetrics has published its US Mobile Network Performance Review. The report summarizes results from RootMetrics' scientific testing to provide the most complete and accurate picture of mobile network performance from nation to neighborhood across three levels: the entire United States, the 50 states, and the 125 largest metro areas in the country.

In gathering data for the report, RootMetrics testers drove 237,506 miles, visited 7,323 indoor locations, and conducted 6.1 million tests across urban and rural areas in all 50 states and 125 metro areas during the first half of 2015. The company also measured mobile performance at airports, venues, transit stations, and college campuses, using the same phones consumers can buy from the carriers' stores for all testing.

Performance at the National Level

The latest report found that Verizon is still leading the mobile network race on the national level in nearly all aspects of testing. The network won the Overall Performance Award for the fourth consecutive time, while also earning the Network Reliability, Network Speed, Data Performance, and Call Performance RootScore Awards. AT &T won the Text Performance RootScore Award and finished a close second in every other category. In short, Verizon and AT &T remain in a tier above their competitors.

Sprint and T-Mobile maintained third and fourth place, respectively, in overall performance, although both carriers continued to make some inroads into the lead of Verizon and AT &T. Notably, Sprint showed strong progress in call performance, jumping into a second-place tie with AT &T in that category.

While T-Mobile finished fourth in overall performance, its strong data and network speed performances helped the carrier maintain its lead over Sprint in these categories. T-Mobile continued to offer its best performance in major metro areas, especially in speed, but it still lacks the broad coverage outside these areas needed to make major gains in the national ranking.

"We expect our phones to work wherever we are, whenever we want," said Julie Dey, RootMetrics vice president. "Whether we're trying to use GPS, share pictures from a concert, or send a text that we're running late, it's frustrating when we can't do those things quickly or at all. Our independent, scientific testing gives the public the information they need to make informed decisions and help improve their mobile lives."

United States Overall Performance RootScore Rankings (1H 2015):

1 – Verizon (94.5)
2 – AT &T (91.8)
3 – Sprint (87.5)
4 – T-Mobile (82.0)

Reliability and Speed Across the US

RootMetrics offers two holistic indices that offer a clear view of each network's performance in the key areas of network reliability and speed. Looking at the Network Reliability and Speed indices in conjunction with Overall RootScores offers the most comprehensive look at a typical consumer's mobile experience.

The Reliability Index is based on how reliably calls could be made and texts delivered, as well as how often RootMetrics could make a data network connection and then stay connected throughout testing.

United States Reliability Index rankings (1H 2015):

1 – Verizon (95.9)
2 – AT &T (93.8)
3 – Sprint (91.3)
4 – T-Mobile (82.7)

The Speed Index considers results such as how quickly a network could download and upload files, send emails, perform typical web and app-related tasks, and send/receive texts.

United States Speed Index rankings (1H 2015):

1 – Verizon (91.9)
2 – AT &T (88.5)
3 – T-Mobile (85.1)
4 – Sprint (75.8)

Scoring is also broken down into Call, Data, and Text Performance RootScores.

United States Data Performance rankings (1H 2015):

1 – Verizon (96.6)
2 – AT &T (94.1)
3 – T-Mobile (87.0)
4 – Sprint (85.0)

United States Call Performance rankings (1H 2015):

1 – Verizon (92.1)
2 – AT &T (88.7)
2 – Sprint (88.3)
4 – T-Mobile (75.1)

United States Text Performance rankings (1H 2015):

1 – AT &T (95.5)
2 – Verizon (95.2)
3 – Sprint (95.0)
4 – T-Mobile (90.5)

State Performance Summarized

The separation between the two tiers of the carriers remains evident at the state level, as Verizon and AT &T swept the overall category. Verizon excelled once again, winning or sharing Overall RootScore Awards in 47 out of 50 states and 253 of 300 total performance awards across all categories. The next-closest carrier was AT &T, winning or sharing 12 Overall RootScore Awards and 95 first-place awards across all categories at the state level.

At the other end of the spectrum, both Sprint and T-Mobile lost ground at the state level. Sprint won or shared 25 total performance awards vs. 32 during the second half of 2014. However, Sprint improved in reliability, ranking first in three Network Reliability Index vs. only one during the second half of 2014.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile was shut out in all categories in the 50 states after winning four performance awards during the second half of 2014 testing.

Performance across 125 Metros

Verizon also led the metro award tally by a wide margin, winning or sharing first place in 110 of the 125 Overall RootScore Awards at the metro level and taking home 512 total performance awards, compared to the 441 total awards of its closest competitor, AT&T.

AT &T finished second in awards earned, but showed that it's not content to be runner-up. It dramatically closed the gap with Verizon, gaining 53 total performance awards compared to the second half of 2014. AT &T was the only carrier to improve its award tally in every single category and showed the largest gains in the overall performance and network speed categories.

Behind the two leaders, Sprint and T-Mobile continued to show improvement in metro areas. T-Mobile remained in third place in the Metro overall awards tally, but Sprint closed the gap, gaining 45 more total awards over the second half of 2014vs. T-Mobile's gain of 20. T-Mobile continued to shine on the Network Speed Index, as its 42 awards inched it closer to second-place AT &T, which won 53 awards.

When it comes to top speeds, T-Mobile has reached the top tier with Verizon. T-Mobile recorded median download speeds of 20 Mbps or faster in 45 of the 125 metro markets RootMetrics tested, a close second to Verizon's 51 markets, but well ahead of AT &T and Sprint.

T-Mobile also showed improved reliability scores at the metro level, as its tally of first-place finishes on the Network Reliability Index increased from 23 to 31. It improved significantly across all 125 metro areas in terms of blocked call rates as well as data reliability rates. If T-Mobile continues to show this type of improvement while maintaining its fast data speeds, it could quickly close the gap between Verizon and AT &T when it comes to overall performance in the metro areas.

Sprint's story at the metro level continues to be one of improvement, as it increased its tally of RootScore Awards from 135 to 180 since the second half of 2014. Much of Sprint's gain in RootScore Awards was in the text category, where it won or shared 77 Text RootScore Awards, up from 41 in the last round of testing. It also improved its reliability testing results.

Sprint still trailed behind the other three carriers in terms of network speed in metro areas, but it did make gains, recording median download speeds of 5 Mbps or greater in 94 of 125 metros in this test period, an increase from 66 in the prior round of testing.

For details on the RootMetrics testing methodology, visit: http://www.rootmetrics.com/us/methodology.

About RootMetrics®

RootMetrics® is an independent mobile analytics firm that offers insights into the consumer mobile experience. RootMetrics provides data on mobile network performance to help people make more informed mobile decisions. The company offers its RootScore® Report series to offer scientific insights across all spaces of a consumer's life across the US, in each of the states, within the 125 most populous metro areas, at airports, and within key areas of select cities (covering venues, transit, campuses, and more). Its downloadable CoverageMap app combines the results from its professional testing with crowdsourced results to offer comparisons down to street level. To ensure that RootMetrics testing reflects real-world mobile usage, testing is conducted based on where, when, and how consumers use their smartphones most often.

CONTACT: Mike Kelly for RootMetrics rootmetrics@shiftcomm.com 617-779-1800Source: RootMetrics