A new survey of wireless network performance as provided by AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint offers an interesting insight into speed, availability, and more.

Here are the highlights from wireless technology firm OpenSignal, which is based on data gathered through July 10:

  • T-Mobile inches ahead of Verizon in our LTE speed tests

It was a close contest, but T-Mobile walked away with OpenSignal’s award for fastest LTE speeds, averaging 16.3 Mbps in our summer download tests. Verizon, however, was hot on T-Mobile’s heels as OpenSignal users saw average speeds of 15.9 Mbps over Verizon’s LTE connections. Both operators far outpaced Sprint and AT&T, neither of which averaged downloads greater than 13 Mbps in our tests.

  • Verizon ranks highest in our LTE availability scores

Though Verizon is facing challengers in many of the metrics we measure, the nation’s biggest operator stood apart in our 4G network availability category, which measures the proportion of time customers can see an LTE signal. Our Verizon-network testers were able to make LTE connections 86% of the time during our measurement period.

  • T-Mobile surpasses AT&T in our LTE availability rankings

T-Mobile leapfrogged AT&T in our 4G availability metric. We found T-Mobile’s customers were able to access an LTE signal 83% of the time in OpenSignal’s user tests, compared to 80% of the time for AT&T customers.

  • GSM operators maintain their 3G speed edge

In the increasingly rare situations in which customers are forced onto 3G networks, our data found AT&T and T-Mobile’s HSPA networks definitely held the advantage over Verizon and Sprint’s CDMA services. T-Mobile had the fastest 3G download speeds in our user tests at 4.6 Mbps, while we measured average speeds no faster than 1 Mbps on Sprint and Verizon’s 3G connections.

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