Understanding which wireless network is actually the best

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Every year, a bunch of different studies come out that crown a winner, the "best network" in the USA. Each study claims to use the best, most scientific methodology to give "unrivaled accuracy" or "undisputed results," or something else equally quotable.

But if the studies are so good, why do they give such different results? Take a study published today by RootMetrics, which has Verizon in first place and T-Mobile in last. That's in stark contrast to a study last month from OpenSignal, which had T-Mobile and Verizon tied for first and Sprint languishing in last place.

The reason for the difference is that measuring cellphone networks is hard. We're talking about trying to quantify a network that stretches across the entire country, works on tens of thousands of different devices and in all kinds of terrain. Trying to measure that, assign each of the big four wireless networks an easy-to-understand score and publish results in a 300-word blog post is basically impossible.

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