By Charlie Osborne
Telecommunications firms may be launching 4G LTE networks worldwide, but over-subscribed networks, spectrum limits, and coverage woes are forcing down the average speed of our data.
OpenSignal's latest mobile networks report, the State of LTE in the US in February 2014, reveals the companies that have improved their coverage the most in recent times, and shows us the differences between the four main U.S. networks -- Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T -- in regards to both speed and coverage.
While fourth-generation networks offer improved speeds on existing 3G and HSPA+ technologies, speeds that the network can hypothetically achieve often differ from the service consumers experience. Oversubscription, infrastructure requiring improvement and a lack of spectrum resources can all contribute to low speeds -- and OpenSignal says in general, the US reported lower speeds than most other advanced LTE networks worldwide.
However, speed is not the only important aspect to consider when rating LTE networks -- access also counts. Within OpenSignal's report, the extent to which users are actually able to access the network, "Time on LTE" rather than connecting to 3G or having no Web access at all, is also a factor within a network's overall performance.
OpenSignal says that out of the top four US network providers, T-Mobile has offered the fastest service in the US over the last three months, with an average speed of 11.5 Mbps. Sprint has one of the slowest networks worldwide at 4.3Mbps. In comparison, Australia's average LTE speed is 24.5 Mbps, which highlights how slow US networks can be.