Last updated: 10:30 AM ET, Tue April 12 2016

Verizon, LAX Headline Winners and Losers From Recent Mobile Internet Study

Business Travel | Gabe Zaldivar | April 12, 2016

Verizon, LAX Headline Winners and Losers From Recent Mobile Internet Study

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While you probably know the following from anecdotal evidence, a recent study puts actual numbers to the Internet efficiency of some of the biggest airports in the nation.

RootMetrics’ Mike Parker (h/t Business Insider) reports on the publication’s study of 50 airports nationwide and how each stacks up when you consider its mobile Internet availability.

Many of you will have your own personal stories of going through your local airport without so much as a trickle of available Internet while some of you more fortunate travelers can attest to having plenty of data flowing through your respective smartphone.

RootMetrics had a crack team test the usual suspects in the form of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon at 50 airports using “off-the-shelf smartphones” at the end of 2015.

The report explains its method: “Throughout each airport, our scientific test team collects samples at locations passengers typically visit, including at ticketing, baggage claim, and within terminals. In addition to capturing download and upload speed, we test each network’s data performance during consumer-based activities such as checking email or during web/app usage.”

For the corporate traveler, mobile data is that first wave of attack for any work that needs be done. Before going through the sign-up process of airport Wi-Fi, it’s easier to check email, answer queries and check in with colleague on that smartphone.

According to the website, this is a relative breeze at Southwest Florida International (RSW); Sacramento International (SMF); Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL); Dallas Love Field (DAL); and Logan International (BOS) – all rank one through five, respectively.  

As for where you will find yourself mired in frustration as you walk around looking for service?

The bottom three were Los Angeles International (LAX); San Diego International (SAN) and Philadelphia International (PHL).

As the report is careful to note, many of these airports are inundated with travelers that put a large drain on various cell towers and mobile infrastructure.

So it makes sense that you might see an airport like LAX get dreadful test results when four carriers were considered for mobile service.

Now if you are considering a carrier that is perfect throughout the nation then you are going to be disappointed.

The one takeaway from all of this is that staying connected at a busy place like an International airport is a pain.

With that said, Verizon won the day with 25 “awards” from the study of 50 airports.

RootMetrics was careful to state that Verizon had less than stellar low-end speeds but did offer: “Despite slow speeds at the bottom end, Verizon recorded excellent reliability for both getting connected and staying connected at nearly every airport we tested.”

It’s nice to know that all four carriers did very well in reliability testing, which meant that you were indeed able to access and stay connected at five popular airports.

The study offers an immersive look at something we take for granted the moment we enter an airport.

From TSA to our gate, we are glued to our respective smartphone. Now you have serious data to back up your complaints when you can’t quite get your data fast enough. 


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