Although Los Angeles International is one of the busiest airports in the nation, a new study of cell phone service quality at the 50 top U.S. airports in passenger volume finds that LAX ranks dead last. By contrast, Oakland International ranked number one. (See rankings below)
When it comes to carriers, Verizon ranked highest, AT&T came in second. T-Mobile ranked third and Sprint came in last place.
RootMetrics collected data on data speeds and connection reliability for the four major network carriers (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint) by sending testers equipped with off-the-shelf smartphones to all 50 airports. Results vary not only by airport, but by carrier as well, so the company compiles overall composite scores for each facility.
The company carries out these surveys twice a year, and the results show significant changes. For instance, in the second half of 2015, Oakland ranked 33rd overall and now ranks first. Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport jumped from 16th place last year to second place today, and California’s Orange County Airport rose from 35th to fourth place in the rankings.
And Los Angeles? “Due to very slow speeds and shaky reliability, LAX has routinely appeared in the bottom five. This time, LAX placed dead last for the same reasons. It’s not necessarily a surprise, though, given the fastest median download speed we recorded at LAX was 88.0 Mbps slower than that of our #1 finisher,” RootMetrics said.
What does that difference mean in practical terms? Say you want to download an HD episode of a 45-minute TV program, which takes up 600 MB. RootMetrics said that if you were at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson (which ranked sixth overall) and used AT&T (with a median download speed of 40.4 Mbps at that airport), it would take 2.0 minutes. By contrast, a Verizon user at LAX (median download speed 0.5 Mbps) would take more than two and a half hours to do the same thing.
You can read the full report here, including a comparison of the overall performance of the four network carriers; the full rankings of all 50 airports; and an interactive feature that lets you compare median download speeds and connectivity rates for the four carriers at Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth and New York JFK.
Airports in the top 10 in addition to those mentioned above include Southwest Florida International in Ft. Myers (3rd), Boston Logan (5th), Indianapolis (7th), Sacramento (8th), Dallas Love Field (9th) and Chicago Midway (10th). Among very large airports, Newark was in 11th place, O’Hare 14th, San Francisco 19th, Miami 24th, DFW 25th, JFK 29th, and LaGuardia 40th.
Readers: Do you run into issues with cell phone reception at airports? Which carrier do you use and why?
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