These days, choosing a carrier is more about data than it is calls or messages—so a new report about which one provides the fastest 3G and 4G download speeds makes for interesting reading.

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OpenSignal has published the results of its recent data network tests to establish which carrier provides the fastest downloads. And the answer, perhaps surprisingly, is... T-Mobile.

The carrier effortlessly wins out on 3G download speeds, shown below, offering an average speed of 3.5Mbps. That’s way faster than second-placed AT&T, which offers 2.2Mbps, and leaves Verizon and Sprint in the dust, with their paltry 0.66 Mbps and 0.64Mbps respectively.

Things are a little closer when it comes to 4G, shown below. T-Mobile just squeaks a victory, with an average download speed of 12.26Mbps, while Verizon lags behind with 11.98Mbps. AT&T and Sprint languish, with 7.93Mbps and 6.56Mbps respectively.

The data used here is collected by OpenSignal using a network testing app, and it’s based on data taken from 181,927 US devices. So, a reasonable sample size.

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For a little context, those figures peg the average LTE connection speed in the US at around 9.9Mbps—way behind the international average of 13.5. But then, if you want super-fast mobile data, you should move to New Zealand, which offers a zippy 36Mbps average. Probably because sheep can’t use mobile phones very well.

One last note about coverage, which is important—even super-fast speeds aren’t any use if don’t have a connection. In that race, Verizon wins with 87 percent of its customers picking up 4G, while T-Mobile and AT&T both hit around 82 percent. Again, Sprint sucks: just 70 percent of its customers can get a 4G connection.

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If you’re about to get a new contract and treasure data speeds above all else, it looks like T-Mobile is your best bet—at least for now.

[OpenSignal via The Verge]

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Original image by Blackzheep/Shutterstock