Denver ranks near bottom in cell network service

Posted at 11:01 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 01:01:07-05

Denver ranks near the bottom of 125 cities surveyed for mobile network performance.  That's according to a survey by RootMetrics, which measured overall performance, reliability, speed, data, call and text.

Only Santa Rosa, CA, Lancaster, PA, Omaha, NE and Hudson Valley, NY fared worse.

The survey confirms what many local residents have thought for sometime -- that speed and data are slow in the Mile High City.

"It's amazing how slow the data is compared to places like Phoenix," said Denver resident Don Petermann. "We travel all over the US and this is one of he slowest."

"The coverage is really sketchy," said David Lester.  "I'm usually looking at one, maybe two bars, at best, on my signal and it's commonly 3G instead of 4G and LTE.  That shouldn't be. Not in the city."

According to the RootMetrics survey, Atlanta, Chicago and Indianapolis tied for the best overall mobile networks.

Top Ranked cities:  Overall Performance

  • 1) Atlanta, GA                  98.2
  • 2) Chicago                       98.2
  • 3) Indianapolis, IN            98.2
  • 4) Sacramento, CA         98.0
  • 5) Rockford, IL                 97.9

 Bottom Ranked cities:  Overall Performance

  • 121) Denver, CO             93.8
  • 122) Santa Rosa, CA      93.0
  • 123) Lancaster, PA          92.4
  • 124) Omaha, NE             91.5
  • 125) Hudson Valley NY    90.5

In network speed, Denver ranks 122.  Only Lancaster, PA, Santa Rosa, CA and McAllen, TX are worse.

And in data, Denver ranks 121, ahead of Santa Rosa, Hudson Valley, McAllen and Lancaster.

Chattanooga, TN was tops in data and in speed.

When asked why Denver lags behind most of the 125 cities surveyed, Bobby Coleman, district sales manager for Sprint, said the overall system is not built up like it is in other cities.

Coleman said it's all about spectrum.

"Think of it like a highway," he said.  "Spectrum gives you the ability to have lots of people using their phone when they need to, vs. being in rush hour all the time."

Coleman told Denver7 that Sprint has been working to expand its spectrum and that the investment is paying off.

"A year ago, we ranked last in network speed (among the major carriers in Denver.) This year, we're number one in network speed.  We also tied for number one in text and reliability."

Coleman said the company's new app, Sprint Zone, allows customers to keep track of problem areas in the network and to share it with the company.

"We're able to hone in and actually fix the network where the customers are," he said.

Verizon spokeswoman Meagan Dorsch said customer demand for Wireless voice and data service is growing rapidly.

In in emailed statement to Denver7, Dorsch said demand is growing between 25 to 50 percent a year.

"Verizon continues to increase network capacity to stay ahead of that demand," she said.  "We have a relentless commitment to provide our customers with the most reliable network possible in Denver and across the U.S."

Dorsch said Verizon plans to continue enhancing its network in Denver and across Colorado by deploying new technology such as distributed antenna systems and expanding XLTE coverage, which doubles 4G LTE network bandwidth in cities nationwide, with faster peak speeds and greater capacity than before.

A recent study published by Cisco predicts even greater future demand.

The study forecasts that mobile data traffic will grow 8-fold from 2015 to 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 53%.