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If You Want a Faster Mobile Connection, Move Here

By Chris Neiger - Feb 7, 2016 at 10:01AM

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The U.S. lags far behind the rest of the world in mobile Internet speeds.

The U.S. is home to some of the world's most innovative technology companies, but that doesn't always mean we have the best tech around. This is especially true when it comes to cellular connections. 

A recent OpenSignal report analyzed cellular network data from more than 350,00 LTE users across the world and found that while Verizon Communications (VZ -2.54%), AT&T (T 0.05%), T-Mobile (TMUS 0.90%), and Sprint (S) built out strong LTE networks, the carriers fell short on the average LTE download speeds compared to the rest of the world. 

The average U.S. speed was just 10 Mbps compared to the global average of 13.5 Mbps. Meanwhile, Singapore topped the list with an average download speed of 37 Mbps and New Zealand came in second with 29 Mbps.

T-Mobile currently boasts the fastest LTE download speeds in the U.S., with an average of 12.3 Mbps, while Verizon nearly matches that with 12 Mbps, AT&T grabs 8 Mbps and Sprint trails with 6.5 Mbps. T-Mobile's been bragging about its fast network for a while now, and said in its Q3 2015 report that it's had the fastest U.S. network for seven consecutive quarters.

But while the U.S. doesn't even come close to the fastest LTE networks in the world, we do have one of the largest LTE footprints. 

"No other large countries have managed to build the vast 4G infrastructures the U.S. and Japan have deployed, yet American and Japanese LTE networks can't match the speed offered by most of the world's 4G operators," OpenSignal said.

U.S. carriers are able to provide an LTE signal to customers 81% of the time, on average, which is a high percentage compared to the rest of the world. 

OpenSignal noted that, "Countries that are able to provide an LTE signal more than 80% of the time are a rare breed though -- only eight countries surpassed that mark, according to our measurements."

The U.S. joined the above 80% rankings for the first time this past quarter. It took us a while to get there because of our large geography makes it more difficult and expensive to build out LTE networks, compared to smaller countries.

Can the U.S. keep up?
While the U.S. was one of the first countries to launch LTE, we've clearly fallen a bit behind. But that doesn't mean Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile aren't making big pushes to boost their networks.

OpenSignal noted that the U.S. ranks in the top 10 when it comes to building out its cellular coverage. And considering the U.S. cellular market is continually becoming more competitive, we may just see the carriers start improving LTE speeds, now that Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have nearly the same LTE coverage.

Verizon's already on the path to creating a 5G network, and will begin testing in Boston and New York City some time this year. As the battle for U.S. subscriber growth rages on, you can bet that the U.S. carriers will do whatever they can to make their networks even better than before -- even it it takes them a while to catch up to Singapore. 

Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Verizon Communications. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

AT&T Inc. Stock Quote
AT&T Inc.
T
$18.43 (0.05%) $0.01
Sprint Corporation Stock Quote
Sprint Corporation
S
T-Mobile US, Inc. Stock Quote
T-Mobile US, Inc.
TMUS
$146.86 (0.90%) $1.31
Verizon Communications Inc. Stock Quote
Verizon Communications Inc.
VZ
$44.19 (-2.54%) $-1.15

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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