Killing time at the airport used to mean heading to the bar with a magazine.
Now it means means heading to the bar with a smartphone.
While one would think that would make airport coverage a huge priority for most data providers, not all pre-flight signals were created equal.
A recent analysis of mobile network connection data at 50 of the busiest airports in the U.S. looked at how AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon fared across the board.
Here are five takeaways.
When it comes to download speed, Verizon is king
Verizon had the highest median download speed by far at four out of the five busiest U.S. airports (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, LAX, O’Hare, DFW). AT&T, meanwhile, wins by a longshot at Denver International.
Sprint has the most trouble connecting
Candice Bergen’s favorite carrier’s 96.8% successful initial connection rate looks pretty good — until you take into account that its three competitors all had perfect 100% connection rates.
If you want to download something, do it in Atlanta
According to the data, it would take mobile users just six minutes on average to download an HD episode of a 45-minute television show — about 600 MB — at Hartsfield-Jackson. At LAX? A whopping 62 minutes.
Philly is not the city of cellular love
The 14,727,945 annual passengers that trek through Philadelphia International may have access to good cheesesteaks, but they are lacking on the mobile service front. The airport ended up with a weighted composite “RootScore” of 66.1. Compare that with Southwest Florida International in Fort Myers, the top dog on the list, which had a score of 98.7.
Bigger is sometimes better
While Denver International and LAX have their issues, Hartsfield-Jackson, O’Hare and DFW all finished in the top 15 (No. 3, No. 7 and No. 12 respectively) in the composite rankings despite handling high volumes of passengers.