T-Mobile, Where Second Place = “Undisputed” Champ

Yesterday, T-Mobile sent out a press release claiming that it is now the industry leader in prepaid wireless (we’ll get to that later). The statement from the magenta mobile provider also included the boast that T-Mobile “has maintained the undisputed title of America’s fastest nationwide 4G LTE network” and links to a recent test as evidence. Problem is, the results of that test don’t seem to back up T-Mobile’s horn-tooting.

The T-Mo press release cites these comparative 4G LTE test results posted by CNET’s Lynn La earlier this week.

La put all four national carriers through the same tests to see how their LTE networks stacked up against each other.

I would think that anyone claiming they were the “undisputed” title holder for LTE speeds would have to have placed first in all the tests, but T-Mobile apparently thinks differently.

That’s not to say that T-Mobile didn’t do very well on the CNET tests.

Its download rate of 38.04 Mbps was only slightly behind AT&T’s 40.5 Mbps. Likewise, the two carriers had nearly identical upload rates, with AT&T’s 19.81 edging out T-Mobile with 19.36.

Those numbers are something for any wireless carrier to brag about and they’re many times faster than the current FCC standard for broadband.

Much like Verizon’s unnecessarily misleading customer satisfaction charts, there is a lot for T-Mobile to brag about in the CNET results.

The smaller carrier did beat out all the competition in the three media download tests. A 1.4GB movie downloaded in only 5 minutes, 28 seconds on T-Mo, more than a minute faster than AT&T.

It also performed respectably on the web-browsing tests, tying or being only a second behind the leader in load times.

For a the smallest of the four majors to be offering speeds that are competitive, if not better, is something for T-Mobile to brag about. Unfortunately, the company is apparently taking the position “Why be honest and say we’re doing a good job when we can fib and say we’re the greatest thing ever?”

Speaking of which, let’s get back to the initial reason that T-Mobile sent out the press release — its claim that it had passed Sprint to become the #1 prepaid wireless provider in the country.

That’s debatable. Let’s look at this graph from Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research:

T-Mobile (the pink line) does indeed appear to have overtaken Sprint (the yellow line), but that’s that dark blue line that has about 10 million more subscribers? Oh, it’s Tracfone, owned by Mexico’s América Móvil.

Now, Tracfone’s U.S. service uses other carriers’ networks for its phone service. So in terms of companies that sell prepaid service that works on a network owned by the same company, T-Mobile may indeed be the leader.

Dear T-Mobile: There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re not always the fastest. Or at the very least, if you’re going to boast about being the fastest, make sure you link to research that backs up your claim.

And, after looking at those CNET results, just thank your luck stars you weren’t bought by Sprint.