RootMetrics report crowns AT&T “Best 5G experience” in the US

(Image credit: AT&T)

RootMetrics has released a new 5G report that includes a first-of-its-kind Best 5G category, offering insight into the overall end-user 5G experience – won in the first half of 2021 by AT&T 5G. Meanwhile, Verizon sets the standard for 5G data reliability and finishes a close second to AT&T for 5G speed.


(Image credit: RootMetrics)

5G Testing

To determine that AT&T provided the Best 5G experience in the first half of 2021, RootMetrics looked at which carrier most often provided broad 5G availability plus great speed and data reliability results. The company looks at both 5G-only and 5G mixed mode results and combines those into one view of “Everyday 5G” performance. 5G-only results show how 5G would perform if it were ubiquitous today, while 5G mixed mode results reflect the increasingly common user experience of switching between 5G and 4G LTE during the same data activity. Combining the two 5G possibilities, Everyday 5G results reflect the most typical 5G experience are used throughout the RootMetrics report.

At the category level, the winners for 5G availability, speed, and data reliability were determined by looking at the number of cities out of 125 that each carrier registered the Highest 5G availability, fastest 5G download speeds in the same city across three key metrics: 5th percentile, median, and 95th percentile download speeds and highest 5G data reliability success rates for both getting connected and staying connected in the same city. Simply, the carrier with the highest market tally in each category was the winner.

AT&T: Best 5G experience

As well as earning top honours for delivering the Best 5G experience in 1H 2021, AT&T also edged past Verizon to win a close 5G speed race across three critical speed metrics: 5th percentile, median, and 95th percentile download speeds. While median download speeds represent the most typical experience, looking at all three metrics together paints the most accurate picture of which network is truly the fastest.

“AT&T faces strong competition. T-Mobile offered the top availability of any carrier and its speeds have improved since 2H 2020. Verizon, meanwhile, delivered the most reliable 5G experience of any carrier, showed rapid 5G growth, and recorded speeds that were close to those of AT&T,” noted Rootmetics.

T-Mobile: Best 5G availability

Rootmetrics testing showed T-Mobile 5G offered the most widespread 5G availability of any carrier. T-Mobile recorded the highest 5G availability in 81 cities, a total nearly twice as high as that of AT&T (44) and nine times higher than that of Verizon (9). T-Mobile’s availability shined in Wichita, KS, where the carrier recorded nearly ubiquitous availability of 98.6%, the highest of any carrier in the first half of 2021. The carrier also delivered faster speeds compared to those in the second half of 2020, largely due to the carrier using far more mid-band spectrum than it did last year.

Verizon: Most reliable 5G experience

Verizon 5G lived up to its reputation for offering outstanding reliability, delivering the most reliable 5G experience in the first half of 2021. The carrier had the highest Everyday 5G data reliability success rates for both getting and staying connected in almost twice as many cities as any other carrier at 99. Verizon also showed rapid 5G growth and strong speeds.

Dynamic 5G landscape

“We could see this dynamic landscape continue to shift.”

Patrick Linder, CMO, RootMetrics.

“The 5G race in the US can change fast. AT&T provided the strongest combination of broad 5G availability plus performance in 1H 2021. But T-Mobile speeds continue to improve and Verizon’s 5G network showed rapid and impressive growth since last year. With all three carriers investing heavily into mid-band spectrum at the C-Band auction, we could see this dynamic landscape continue to shift, with consumers benefitting from increased competition, wider 5G availability, and much faster speeds going forward, ” said Patrick Linder, CMO, RootMetrics.

Rachael Sharpe

Rachael is a British journalist with 17 years experience in the publishing industry. Since launching, she’s been freelancing, and working for some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines including and and has also had a book, iPad for Photographers, published. A regular contributor at 5Gradar, Rachael is following the 5G market closely. Find out more at