Quick Summary of Best Mobile Speeds In The Country (2020 Area Update):
- 3 Areas With The Best Mobile Speeds In The U.S.
- 3 Areas With The Slowest Mobile Speeds In The U.S.
- 3 Smaller Cities With Fast Mobile Speeds
- Ranking The Speeds Of The 5 Most Populated Areas
- 2 Areas That Significantly Increased Their Mobile Speed
- 2 Areas That Significantly Decreased Their Mobile Speed
Have you ever wondered what areas of the United States have the best mobile speeds? Which ones have the fastest? The slowest? Even though 5G technology is just around the corner, we’re still relying primarily on 4G LTE networks to connect. And knowing the areas where this coverage is the strongest (or the weakest) can be very helpful.
The precise coverage data each member of The Big 4 – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint – was collected in the 125 most populous areas of the country. This info was gathered two times in 2019. Once in the first half of the year and again in the second. We now have the most accurate coverage data possible going into 2020.
Generally, it’s large metropolitan areas that have the best mobile speeds. This is probably no surprise. But some of these metro areas are still stronger than others. You’ll see that a larger population doesn’t always translate into better mobile coverage. All the info is below.
Thanks to RootMetrics for gathering the majority of the information presented in this article
1. 3 Areas With The Best Mobile Speeds In The U.S.
- Baltimore, MD
- Lansing, MI
- Grand Rapids, MI
At #3, Baltimore, MD ranks 19 out of the 125 largest metro areas in the U.S. It has a population of 2,203,663. The aggregate median download speed is 46.1 Mbps, putting it in third place. It’s worth noting that AT&T, in particular, recorded an average download speed of 66.6 Mbps which is incredibly high. That’s the fastest data speed of any company in any area nationwide. AT&T users in the Baltimore area will rarely, if ever, experience buffering while streaming content.
Lansing, MI takes the #2 spot with average speeds of 46.3 Mbps even though it ranks 117 of 125 in population. Like we mentioned above, population often does not correlate to great cell signal.
The top spot goes to Grand Rapids. This city in Michigan gets average speeds of 50.8 Mbps, awarding it the best mobile speeds in the country. All four major networks have very fast download speeds here, particularly T-Mobile (57.9 Mbps average). Compared to its fellow 125 largest metro areas, Grand Rapids ranks 69 with a population of 569,935.
Understanding Mbps Numbers
Let’s paint a picture of what these fast mobile speeds mean for you if you live in one of these areas that have the best mobile speeds. And for the record, speeds around 20-25 Mbps is fast enough that you’re probably not having any why is my phone so slow thoughts.
Let’s say you’re sitting in a terminal at Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids, MI. You want to download a movie from Netflix to your phone for the upcoming flight. That way you can watch it later on the plane without needing to bother with the airline’s potentially poor WiFi. You select a movie from the Netflix mobile app and it begins downloading using your phone’s 4G LTE network.
The average Netflix movie is around 600MB of data. If your speed is 50 Mbps, it will only take about 1.5 minutes for the download to complete. Even if your speed was 40 Mbps, it would only take 2 min. Now that’s fast!
On the other hand, if your download speed was only 10 Mbps, it would take around 8 min to complete. Quite a difference your geographic area makes!
2. 3 Areas With The Slowest Mobile Speeds In The U.S.
- Madison, WI
- Stockton, CA
- Fresno, CA
The third slowest mobile speed area in the country is Madison, WI. It ranks 91 of 125 in population with 401,661 people. Average download speed of 17.2. Sprint in this area gets around 9.0 Mbps. T-Mobile gets 10.2. Verizon is 22.0 and AT&T is 23.6.
Stockton (Pop. 370, 583 and 101 of 125 in size) is the runner-up for slowest speeds in the nation. Its median download speed is actually pretty close to Fresno’s. Stockton boasts a 16.5 Mbps average. But T-Mobile in this area is even worse. T-Mobile users get an average of 8.5 Mbps here. That’s really slow. And AT&T here isn’t much better. They’re average in Stockton is 11.7 Mbps. Verizon is around 27 Mbps and Sprint is 23.9 Mbps.
And the winner of the slowest mobile speed award goes to Fresno, CA. 15.0 Mbps is this area’s average speed. Even the king of the networks, Verizon, fairs pretty slow here at 17.9 Mbps. At least compared to the rest of the country. Sprint users in Fresno live with speeds as low as 10.0 Mbps on a daily basis. Fresno’s population is 654,628 (62 of 125).
3. 3 Smaller Cities With Fast Speeds
- Fayetteville, NC
- Akron, OH
- Fort Wayne, IN
These three cities prove you don’t always need to live in a bustling metropolis to get the best mobile speeds.
Though Fayetteville, IN isn’t in the top 3 or even the top 10 for mobile speeds, it still ranks surprisingly high at 33 of 125. This is worth mentioning because it ranks 121 of 125 in population. Average speeds of 36.2 Mbps.
Akron, on the other hand, is in the top 10 areas for mobile speed with an average of 43.2 Mbps. This area ranked 70 of 125 in population.
Ranking 6 of 125 in speed is Fort Wayne, IN. Even though it ranked 118 in population, the average mobile speed here is 43.7 Mbps. That puts two Indiana cities in the top 10. Impressive.
4. Ranking The Speeds Of The 5 Most Populated Areas
- Philadelphia, PA. (Speed Rank: 8)
- Miami, FL (Speed Rank: 96)
- Chicago, IL (Speed Rank: 29)
- Los Angeles, CA (Speed Rank: 74)
- New York City, NY (Speed Rank: 11)
These are the 5 most populated cell user markets in America listed in descending order. As you can see, NYC (which includes the Tri-State Area) and Philadelphia come out on top. LA, Miami, and Chicago are a ways behind. The low-speed ranking of Miami and LA, in particular, are surprising.
New York City barely missed the top 10. Average speeds in this area are 41.7. But let’s single out Verizon for a moment. In NY, Verizon has average download speeds of 60.8 Mbps. That’s nuts. Even Sprint, the caboose of The Big 4, is still really good in NY with an average of 28.4 Mbps.
LA’s average was 29.9 Mbps. Though that’s a lot lower than NY’s average, remember that anything around 25 Mbps or higher is really good. With the exception of T-Mobile (18.1 Mbps average here), The Big 4 in LA have some of the best mobile speeds in California.
Chicago has an average of 36.8 Mbps. It’s worth noting that Verizon and AT&T both boast speeds over 40 Mbps in this area. Even T-Mobile is just about 30 Mbps here.
Miami fares the worst of this bunch with a 27.0 Mbps average. Good news is that AT&T is really fast here at almost 35.0 Mbps. Verizon and T-Mobile are both around 25 Mbps. Sprint, unfortunately, brings Miami’s average down with its 14 Mbps median.
But Philadelphia is the big winner here. Its 43.2 Mbps average makes it one of the fastest mobile speed areas in the country. AT&T is now up to over 55 Mbps in Philly.
5. 2 Areas That Significantly Increased Their Average Mobile Speed
- Corpus Christi, TX
- Albany, NY
We included this section (and the next) because it’s relatively uncommon for areas to make quick big jumps in Mbps capability. Speeds in a given area tend to stay steady for the most part. And if they do get faster or slower, it’s usually incremental. So when it happens quickly, it’s notable.
These speed jumps are typically the result of new cell towers being built in an area. The two areas mentioned here had significant speed increases in 2019.
Corpus Christi, TX went from 26.5 Mbps to 32.7 Mbps. Each major carrier experienced increased speeds here with Verizon making the biggest jump (+6.4 Mbps).
Albany made the biggest jump of all 125 metro areas. It jumped from 25.8 Mbps to 32.9 Mbps. This increase is mostly due to Sprint. At the beginning of the year, Sprint users in Albany had only an 18.7 Mbps average. By the end of the year, it had gone up to 33.6 Mbps.
6. 2 Areas That Significantly Decreased Their Average Mobile Speed
- Milwaukee, WI
- Ann Arbor, MI
The two areas mentioned here had significant speed decreases in 2019.
Milwaukee dropped a lot. It dropped from an average speed of 34.9 Mbps down to 24.6 Mbps. That’s a -14.2 difference. And it wasn’t just one plummeting network that accounted for most of this sharp decline. All four major carriers registered slower speeds. AT&T had a -21.8 Mbps drop. T-Mobile had a -7.9 Mbps drop. The good news for people living in this area is that even with the dropped numbers, mobile speed averages are still in an acceptable range.
Ann Arbor dropped even more. This area represents the biggest mobile speed decline of all 125 major metro areas included in the study. The area went from 50.4 Mbps average (incredibly fast) to 36.2 Mbps average, a drop of -14.2 Mbps. Sprint is largely to blame in this instance as they dropped by -14.8 Mbps (33.2 to 18.4).
Like Milwaukee, Ann Arbor’s good news is that speeds are still really good, even with the drop. In fact, Sprint is really the only network in this area that experienced a big drop. Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are still hovering around the 40 Mbps mark. So things are still really good in Ann Arbor. Unless you Sprint.
Best Mobile Speeds In The Country (2020 Area Update) – Conclusion
We trust that this information will be very helpful to many of you. Remember that with 5G knocking on our doors, the best mobile speeds landscape will soon change significantly. In a good way.
The official introduction of 5G into the mobile phone industry will bring these Mbps averages up. And not just in some places. In ALL places. Everyone’s mobile speeds will begin to get faster when this happens. It won’t happen overnight, but it’ll happen. Probably in 1-2 years.
Visit our website or call us if you have other questions about the best mobile speeds that we didn’t answer.