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Chicagoland lags in smartphone speeds

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 2:19 p.m. CDT

By Paul Tooher

Frustrated by how long it takes to download data on your smartphone?

There’s a good reason for that. Turns out that Chicagoland has some of the slowest 4G LTE network speeds among the nation’s 10 largest cities.

According to OpenSignal, which tracks wireless coverage and speed across the nation, Chicago is tied with San Antonio, Texas, for the second-slowest average download speed among the 10 largest cities in the nation.

The Windy City and the home of the Alamo both have average download speeds of 6.6 megabits per second. Only Philadelphia, with an average download speed of 5.5 Mbps is slower.

San Jose, Calif., has the fastest average download speed, at 10.8 Mbps, as might be expected in the nation’s high-tech capital.

Phoenix had a speed of 9.7 Mbps, followed by San Diego, at 9.6 Mbps, Dallas, at 8.6 Mbps, Los Angeles, at 7.5 Mbps, Houston, at 7.3 Mbps and New York at 6.7 Mbps.

AT&T offers the best network in the Windy City, according to OpenSignal, while Sprint was the worst among the top four mobile phone service provides, including Verizon and T-Mobile.

T-Mobile offered the fastest average download speed in six of the 10 cities surveyed. OpenSignal attributed this to the relative newness of T-Mobile’s network and the fact that it has the fewest number of subscribers among the big four cell phone service providers.

Sprint had the slowest speeds in nine of the 10 cities considered.

Two separate surveys point to just how quickly smartphones have come to dominate the mobile market.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently reported that 56 percent of Americans have smartphones, up from just 35 percent two years earlier. Meanwhile, comScore estimates that 58 percent of all mobile phone users have smart phones.

Unfortunately, the surging popularity of smartphones has also made them a popular target for criminals.

And while Philadelphia may have the slowest average download speeds, it also has the largest reported number of smartphone thefts in the country, according to a recent AAA survey.

Other cities making the AAA’s top theft list included Seattle; Oakland, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif.; Newark, N.J.; Detroit; Cleveland; Baltimore; New York City and Boston.

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