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RootMetrics Releases 2nd Half 2015 US Mobile Network Performance Review: Verizon Sweeps Awards While Other Carriers Make Gains

  • Verizon earns top recognition in every category
  • AT&T shows consistency as a strong performer at the national level
  • Sprint makes significant gains in metro and state performance
  • T-Mobile continues to deliver fast speeds and strong data reliability in several metro markets

BELLEVUE, Wash., Feb. 18, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- RootMetrics®, the standard for independent mobile performance information, today released results from its 2nd half 2015 review of Mobile Network Performance in the US, the industry's most comprehensive study of mobile network performance. As the uses and devices for mobile networks continue to multiply, RootMetrics, an IHS (NYSE: IHS) company, releases its fifth edition of the report with insights and comparisons of network performance provided across all the spaces of a consumer's mobile life. The report summarizes results from its comprehensive scientific testing in order to provide the most complete, accurate and unbiased picture of mobile network performance across three complementary levels: the entire United States, each of the 50 states, and the 125 largest metro areas in the country.

During the 2nd half of 2015, RootMetrics scouters drove 231,941 miles, visited 6,607 indoor locations, and conducted about 3.9 million tests across all 50 states and 125 metro areas using the same phones consumers can buy from the carriers' stores, statistically reflecting performance across 100% of the US population. During the 2nd half of 2015, we used phones enabled for LTE spectrum bands for each of the four carriers, including T-Mobile's Extended Range LTE. For 1st half 2016 testing, underway now, we are also testing VoLTE calling performance for AT&T and T-Mobile.

Performance at the National Level
The latest report found that Verizon's performance across the United States continues to set the pace, leading the mobile network race in nearly all aspects of testing. While in the past Verizon's network had consistently earned five of the six available RootScore Awards on the national level, during this round of testing the carrier also earned recognition in the sixth category, tying with AT&T for Text Performance. This was Verizon's fifth consecutive time receiving the United States Overall Performance RootScore Award. For the fourth consecutive national report, AT&T was the only carrier other than Verizon to win or share a RootScore Award at the national level. The carrier was also a notable close second to Verizon in four out of the five remaining categories including Overall Performance, Network Reliability, Network Speed, and Data Performance.

Sprint showed improvements in the 2nd half of 2015 at the national level. While the carrier didn't win any RootScore Awards on the national level, Sprint gained the second-place spot for Call Performance outright this time, beating AT&T. Sprint also continued to hold third place in both Overall Performance, Network Reliability, and Text Performance categories.

While T-Mobile finished fourth for Overall Performance, the carrier continues to show steady Data and Network Speed performances at the national level holding onto its third-place titles in both categories.

"With smartphones playing such a big role in our everyday lives, we are on a mission to help consumers make better mobile decisions," said Julie Dey, VP of RootMetrics. "As consumer demands shift to more data-intensive activities, mobile users grow increasingly aggravated by lagging YouTube videos or Instagram uploads that take forever. It is no wonder we are seeing competition between the carriers heating up as they work to provide the best mobile performance. Our unbiased, scientifically rigorous, and accurate information is there to help consumers demystify carrier claims and determine how their carrier actually performs where they live, work, and play."

In addition to the Overall Performance category, the 2nd half 2015 review of Mobile Network Performance in the US shows which networks provided the highest performance in Network Reliability and Network Speed, as well as each network's performance across Data, Call and Text.

US National RootScore Overall Performance rankings:
1 – Verizon (94.5)
2 – AT&T (91.3)
3 – Sprint (86.0)
4 – T-Mobile (80.9)

Overall Performance scoring is broken down in two ways. First, RootMetrics offers two holistic categories that give consumers a clear view of each network's performance in the key areas of Network Reliability and Network Speed. Network Reliability 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 of all performance categories. Network Speed includes how quickly a network could download and upload files, send emails, and perform typical web and app-related tasks.

Scoring is further broken down into Call, Data, and Text RootScores. Looking at all the RootScore categories together offers the most comprehensive look at a typical mobile experience; since not everyone uses their phones in the same way, RootMetrics also offers the ability for consumers to slice the data in the way that helps them most.

Verizon again ranked highest in the US in both Network Reliability, Network Speed and Data Performance.

Network Reliability rankings:
1 – Verizon (96.0)
2 – AT&T (93.7)
3 – Sprint (89.9)
4 – T-Mobile (81.9)

Network Speed rankings:
1 – Verizon (92.0)
2 – AT&T (86.8)
3 – T-Mobile (84.7)
4 – Sprint (73.1)

Data Performance rankings:
1 – Verizon (95.9)
2 – AT&T (93.2)
3 – T-Mobile (87.1)
4 – Sprint (83.1)

Call Performance rankings:
1 – Verizon (92.3)
2 – Sprint (88.7)
3 – AT&T (88.0)
4 – T-Mobile (70.9)

Text Performance rankings:
1 – Verizon (97.0)
1 – AT&T (96.5)
3 – Sprint (95.8)
4 – T-Mobile (92.2)

State Performance Summarized
When it comes to the state rankings in the 2nd half of 2015, all carriers increased their RootScore Award counts, mostly due to an increase in shared awards. Verizon increased its total number of state RootScore Awards from 253 to 272 across all six award categories. That is well over twice as many state-level awards as the next highest competitor, AT&T. AT&T's state-level award count also grew, jumping from 95 last time to 110 this time.

Sprint also experienced award growth on the state level, going from 25 awards in the 1st half of 2015 to 36 this testing period, gains made mostly in Call and Text Performance. However, when it came to Network Reliability, the carrier's award counts declined from the first half after it failed to win RootScore Awards in this category in Kansas, Ohio, and Virginia, where it had previously tied or won the title outright.

While T-Mobile was the only carrier to be shut out of all state categories in the 1st half of 2015, the carrier earned a place on the scoreboard this time, winning or sharing nine state RootScore Awards. Specifically, T-Mobile won or shared Network Speed RootScore Awards in three states, reflecting its maturing LTE footprint; shared two State Call RootScore Awards; and four State Text RootScore Awards.

Metro Performance Summarized
Mobile performance at the metro level is likely to have the greatest impact on a consumer's daily life. Likewise, it is where the race is most competitive for the carriers. When it came to metro performance, this round of testing showed shifts across the board. Verizon did continue to lead the pack with 597 outright wins or ties on the metro level, up 85 awards since the first-half report. This included 104 wins or ties for Overall RootScore Awards at the metro level.

Verizon's next closest competitor was AT&T, which won or shared 50 metro Overall RootScore Awards, down from 68 earned in our first-half testing. The carrier's total metro RootScore Award tally declined by 17 from the 1st Half of 2015, to 424. While its total award count was lower, AT&T was the only carrier that improved its award total in Network Reliability, earning a total of 83 wins or ties in this round of testing – up from 81 last time.

Meanwhile, Sprint showed meaningful improvement across the 125 US metros tested, improving its total metro RootScore Awards from 180 to 212 wins or ties. Its gain of 32 awards trailed only Verizon's improvement of 85 awards during this round of testing. Sprint's gains can be attributed to both improved speeds and stronger reliability: the carrier increased the number of markets where it met a minimum threshold for staying connected from 119 to 121, and delivered median speeds of 20+ Mbps in 14 markets, up from zero markets last half.

Fast speeds in metro areas have long been a hallmark of T-Mobile's performance and this trend continued during our most recent test period. While T-Mobile's total number of RootScore Awards at the metro level decreased by 12 compared to the 1st half 2015 report, it saw real improvements in the number of Network Speed RootScore Awards, increasing from 42 to 49 outright wins plus ties. Furthermore, T-Mobile and Verizon were the only two carriers to improve their total number of Network Speed RootScore Awards since our first-half testing, enabling T-Mobile to surpass AT&T in its total number of metro Network Speed RootScore Awards by a significant margin.

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

About RootMetrics®
RootMetrics® is an independent mobile analytics firm that measures mobile network performance and offers insights into the consumer mobile experience. RootMetrics provides data on mobile network performance to help the networks improve and give consumers an end-to-end look at mobile performance. RootMetrics offers its series of RootScore® Reports that show how the networks perform across all the spaces of a consumer's mobile life, as well as its downloadable CoverageMap app. 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.

About IHS
IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of insight, analytics and expertise in critical areas that shape today's business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 150 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS is committed to sustainable, profitable growth and employs about 8,800 people in 32 countries around the world.

CONTACT: Lori Niquette for RootMetrics rootmetrics@shiftcomm.com 617-779-1800Source: RootMetrics