AT&T wins out in GWS mobile video tests
Global Wireless Solutions put the four national mobile networks through their video streaming paces and the results put AT&T on top. AT&T had the best performance in three out of four categories, with Verizon coming in second, T-Mobile US third and Sprint in last place.
Mobile video streaming is increasingly important to the overall mobile customer experience. Mobile video already accounts for more than half of all mobile data traffic and is expected to make up 78% of mobile data traffic by 2021, according to Cisco.
“It’s clear that video streaming is having and will continue to have a major impact on mobile operator networks – more and more customers expect to stream their favorite shows, videos, and other broadband content where ever they are – whether it’s commuting, waiting for their next appointment, or just taking a break while out and about,” said Dr. Paul Carter, CEO of GWS. He added that the testing “revealed gaps between those operators that are meeting customer expectations vs. those that are struggling. Considering that mobile networks are underpinning a revolution in how consumers watch TV and video, this gap should be watched closely.”
GWS said it focused its testing on how well the carriers performed in four areas that cause the most frustration for consumers when it comes to video streaming:
- Loading time, or time to first picture
- Video quality
- Video freezing
- Video stream reliability
GWS’ results are based on its OneScore ranking method, which which takes into account user behavior by weighting each performance factor; the company said that reliability, for example, is given more weight than loading time because being able to watch a video successfully is more important to consumers.
AT&T had the best performance in stream reliability, highest video quality and lowest incidents of picture freezing, although it came in behind T-Mobile US in fastest loading time: T-Mobile US had an average loading time of 3.2 seconds compared to 3.4 seconds for AT&T. GWS said that 98% of videos streamed over AT&T’s network completed successfully. Verizon came in just behind that figure to place second in overall reliability of the stream and third in the other categories, but it appears that the weighting of reliability worked in its favor to put it in second place. T-Mobile US had the second-best rate of video freezing and the second-best video quality, but its stream reliability came in third. Sprint placed fourth in all categories, with 8.5% of streamed video failing, an average loading time of 3.9 seconds and video freezes occurring 2% of the time.
The data is based on nearly half a million video tests conducted in 2017 during the course of about 400,000 miles of drive-testing, according to GWS. Data was collected in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. GWS based the performance testing on 4K YouTube video streams and used Rohde & Schwarz’s Diversity Benchmarker II test equipment outfitted with Samsung Galaxy devices, and GWS’ own Mobistat data platform.