Leading independent network benchmarking vendor tests major US carrier network performance during the solar eclipse

Dulles, VA – August 24, 2017 – Following the historic solar eclipse on August 21st, network testing specialists from wireless benchmarking company Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) released findings detailing the mobile performance of major US carriers experienced by viewers along the solar eclipse’s path of totality. Findings that shine out include LTE performing surprisingly well across all networks given the nature of remote locations, voice calls experiencing the worst problems and Sprint ranking well behind other network operators at most locations.

In the lead up to the solar eclipse, there were worries about mobile user devices coming to a grinding halt during what was speculated to be the most viewed event in human history. Despite significant network stress, rigorous testing from GWS has found that operators were able to respond effectively to the enormous peak in demand and deliver a
surprisingly consistent and reliable experience to eclipse hunters at key locations along the path of totality.

Findings include:

  • LTE performs brightly across the path of totality
    – On average, LTE was available 82% to 100% of the time across all carriers and across all locations.
  • Voice calls subject to dark patches
    – While overall networks performed surprisingly well across all providers, reliability of voice calls varied significantly. As more and more users made calls to describe the event, T-Mobile was the least successful in completing calls at 80% while Verizon was the best at 99%.
  • Sprint slow off the mark
    – When testing download throughputs similar to streaming a small video Sprint had the slowest LTE throughputs on test while AT&T had the fastest.
  • The signal always gets through
    – Cellular data success rates (reliability) were very good, especially for rural areas. Rates ranged from 97 to 99% across all locations (with Sprint averaging the lowest and AT&T the highest).
  • Uploading photos quicker than time spent in totality
    – AT&T and Verizon showed the quickest time to upload a photo to Instagram. In our tests, Sprint and T-Mobile took nearly twice as long (over 20 seconds) to upload a 4Mb file.
  • Running at full capacity
    – When measuring potential capacity download throughputs, most of the networks on test were capable of delivering average speeds to viewers just over 20Mbps, Sprint was the slowest only managing 13Mbps.

Dr. Paul Carter, CEO of Global Wireless Solutions, commented: “This was the most significant celestial event in the US, and the first to be experienced online since the advent of the modern cellular networks. Millions of viewers directly in the path of the solar eclipse were able to share their own incredible experience by posting photos, streaming live video, or chatting with friends and families. With so many people on their phones at the same time and at locations stretched across the US, mobile network operators faced enormous hurdles to ensure fast and reliable service. While the networks became stressed as the moon started to eclipse the sun, all things considered, our tests showed that operators had planned ahead and added resources in efforts to meet this unusual demand in wireless connectivity.”


GWS used rigorous testing procedures and evaluated the mobile network performance of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon in terms of completing routine tasks (such as making a phone call, uploading a video, sending a Snapchat, etc.) and the speed at which data related tasks can be completed. GWS had teams of network testing specialists conducting performance tests in locations along the solar eclipse’s path of totality across the US (from Oregon to Georgia).

GWS completed approximately 34,000 voice and data tasks in ten locations across the U.S. along the eclipse’s path of totality. Locations included areas where large gatherings of viewers were expected such as college stadiums, community parks, fairgrounds, etc.

GWS collection and evaluation of data was done using Rohde & Schwarz Diversity Benchmarker II test equipment, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S8 mobile devices, and GWS’s Mobistat data evaluation and reporting platform.


About Global Wireless Solutions, Inc.

Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. defines the industry standard for network benchmarking, analysis and testing. Working with some of the world’s largest wireless network providers, GWS offers standardized, high-quality network data and engineering analysis to its customers through a suite of benchmarking products, services, and diagnostic apps that includes drive, venue, and in-building testing.

Firmly rooted in a deep understanding of network engineering, GWS provides best-in-class, turnkey solutions to help customers better understand overall network performance as today’s wireless networks grow and evolve. Founded in 1996, GWS is headquartered in Dulles, VA. At last count, GWS has driven 11 million data collection miles for its customers. For more information, visit 
www.gwsolutions.com and follow us on Twitter at @gwsolutionsinc.

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Global Wireless Solutions, Inc.