As a business traveler, nothing is worse than arriving in a new city with terrible cell connectivity. With about 64% of US adults now owning a smartphone—up from 35% in 2011—it's imperative to access strong mobile networks for work purposes. This list of the best and worst cities for mobile performance from analytics firm RootMetrics can help you prepare for your travels to new cities and know what to expect when it comes to network services.
"With a populous that's becoming more and more mobile-dependent for so many tasks, networks face a proportionate amount of pressure to provide solid, dependable infrastructure with virtually zero service interruptions," a RootMetrics report said. "Anything less than that is not only inconvenient, it's a major disruption to the quality of your mobile life."
Researchers examined network performance data from the top 125 most populated metro areas in the US, and ranked the cities from highest to lowest across the following categories: overall performance, network reliability, network speed, data performance, call performance, and text performance. It is also weighted by the estimated national percentage of subscribers for each network.
While, the RootMetrics list contains some of the biggest cities in the country, the top performers may surprise you. Here's a look at the top 10.
1. Lansing, MI
Population rank: #117
Lansing, home to Capital Steel and Dewpoint, ranked #1 on overall connectivity, as well as reliability and calls. However, the city dropped to #2 in speed, data, and texting. Lansing's overall weighted average score was 98.5.
2. Indianapolis, IN
Population rank: #32
Indianapolis ranks #2 overall, with a weighted average score of 98.2. Home of TechPoint, Rook Security, CloudOne, and Mesh Systems, as well as a popular conference locale, Indianapolis also ranks #2 in reliability, #4 in speed, #3 in data, #5 in calls, and #6 in texting.
3. Atlanta, GA
Population rank: #9
Atlanta ranked #3 overall, and #1 in speed and data. But, it dropped to #41 for reliability, and #60 for calling. It jumped back up to #4 for texting. Tech companies in Atlanta include SAP, BitPay, and a Microsoft division. The city's weighted average was 97.9.
4. Milwaukee, WI
Population rank: #34
Milwaukee, home of American Transmission Company, Aurora Health Care, and Zywave ranked #4 overall, with a weighted score of 97.6. It dropped to #5 in both speed and data, and all the way to #43 in reliability, and #46 in calls. It reached #25 in texting.
5. Chicago, IL
Population rank: #3
Chicago ranked #5 overall, with a weighted score of 97.5—barely below Milwaukee. It came in at #6 for both speed and data, but dropped to #30 for reliability, #56 for calls, and #15 for texting. Groupon, GrubHub, Orbitz, and Motorola are located in Chicago.
6. Knoxville, TN
Population rank: #73
Knoxville, with tech companies EnergySolutions, Radio Systems Corp., and CB&I Group, came in at #6 overall, with a weighted score of 97.4. It reached #7 for data and #8 for speed, but dropped to #25 for reliability, #52 for calls, and #24 for texting.
7. Modesto, CA
Population rank: #104
Modesto ranked #7 overall, with a weighted score of 97.4—the same as Knoxville. Modesto is home to Datapath and Energy Technology Laboratories. It came in #7 for texting and #8 for network reliability. Modesto dropped to #13 for calls, #24 for data, and #27 for speed.
8. Sacramento, CA
Population rank: #27
Sacramento, home to PowerSchool and VoxPro, came in #8 overall. Its weighted score was also 97.4. The city ranked #7 in speed and #8 in data. It dropped to #38 in texting, #49 for calls, and #45 for reliability.
9. Tampa, FL
Population rank: #17
Tampa, at #9, also had an overall weighted average of 97.4. The city ranked #9 for data, #11 for speed, #23 for texting, and #44 for calls. Tampa was #27 in reliability. Tech companies there include CA Technologies, ConnectWise, and T-Mobile.
10. Jackson, MS
Population rank: #106
Jackson, home to Northshore Technologies, Challenge Innovation Technology, and Frontier Solution, ranked #10 on the list, sharing a weighted average of 97.4 with Tampa, Sacramento, Modesto, and Knoxville. The city came in at #16 for data and #20 for speed. Jackson also ranked #21 for reliability, #22 for texting, and #26 for calls.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.