Mobile data and network performance have become a criterion by which people judge the quality of experience at airports as well as retail outlets and other commercial and public facilities open to the public. Testing the quality of mobile networks among the top four wireless network carriers at the 50 busiest U.S. airports, RootMetrics determined that Verizon generally offered faster mobile data speeds – 57.6/30.4 Mbps median download/upload at the five busiest airports – and excellent reliability.
Denver International Airport proved to be an exception. T-Mobile won RootMetrics’ RootScore Award for mobile data speed at Denver International while Verizon was slower there than it was across most airports, RootMetrics highlights in its report, which is available on the mobile analytics provider’s website.
Fastest Airport Mobile Data Service
Mobile data service quality varied widely across airports. Airports, moreover, pose challenges for mobile network service providers, which have to contend with highly variable passenger flows, dense building materials and underground locations that impede RF signals. For safety reasons, airport management also places restrictions on the placement of towers and antennas, RootMetrics points out.
Mobile data median download speeds at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for example, ranged from a low of 6.8 Mbps (Sprint) to a high of 57.5 Mbps (Verizon). Median download speeds for the four major carriers at Atlanta International averaged 36.95 Mbps as compared to 4.55 Mbps at LAX.
RootMetrics found that AT&T’s mobile data networks offered generally high levels of reliability. Field researchers were able to connect to AT&T’s mobile data network in at least 97 percent of tests at 47 of the 50 airports.
AT&T’s mobile data network also proved extremely reliable at holding connections, with Web/app tests completed more than 97 percent of the time at 42 airports. Only Verizon produced better results when it came to mobile data connection reliability.
AT&T lagged when it came to speed, however. Its median download speed was fastest at Hartsfield-Jackson – a median 40.7 Mbps, while its lowest – a median 19.4 Mbps – was registered at Indianapolis International.
Verizon’s fastest median download and upload speeds – 68.8 and 40.4 Mbps, respectively – were recorded at Midway International. In total, Verizon won 29 RootScore Awards and took top honors overall.
In addition to Denver International, T-Mobile’s mobile data service proved to be extremely fast at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta. Its download speeds at Los Angeles International and O’Hare were slower than those of other providers, and reliability lagged at LAX.
Sprint’s mobile services performed well at O’Hare International though its airport mobile data networks typically didn’t perform as well as those of other service providers. Sprint was the only major provider that failed to win any RootScore Awards.