As the big three mobile carriers scramble to upgrade their wireless networks around Boston to faster 5G technology, consumers should be seeing immediate benefits, research firm RootMetrics said in its latest report.
Verizon had the best overall network in the metro area for the first half of 2021, RootMetrics said, the same as last year. AT&T ranked second and T-Mobile third in the company’s tests, which measure upload and download speeds, availability, and performance while making calls and texting.
Verizon had the fastest average download speed at 77.2 megabits per second in the Boston area. That’s fast enough to download an album of music in a few seconds or a digital episode of a television show in under a minute. Verizon’s average improved 52 percent from RootMetrics tests in the second half of 2020.
AT&T had the next fastest average download speeds at 54 megabits per second, a 20 percent improvement from the second half of 2020. And T-Mobile’s downloads averaged 41.8 megabits per second, 61 percent faster than last year.
Eventually, 5G networks will provide speeds 10 to 100 times faster than 4G networks, at least in dense urban and suburban areas. But the carriers need to spend billions to upgrade their cell sites and network infrastructure before such speeds are widely available.
Currently, most 5G networks are only a little bit faster than 4G.
Nationwide, RootMetrics said AT&T customers had the best overall 5G experience and the fastest average download speeds.
RootMetrics tracks wireless network performance by sending teams of testers to drive vehicles packed with cellphones around the country. The results and rankings can be different from firms that use other methods of testing. Ookla, for example, collects speeds tests run by consumers who use their mobile app. Ookla said T-Mobile had the fastest average download speed in the second quarter of 2021.

Aaron Pressman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ampressman.
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