Which Cities Get the Best Cell Reception?

Smartphones are everywhere, but reception isn't.

by / August 19, 2016
Screenshot of RootMetrics’ map that ranks cities’ mobile performance. RootMetrics

Cities have come a long way when it comes to mobile network coverage, but despite the popularity of smartphones, it’s still not a given that coverage will be reliable or fast in a region. But which cities offer the best mobile coverage and performance? Mobile analytics firm RootMetrics studied the 125 most populated American cities and ranked the regions across six categories to answer that question.

The nation’s most populated cities weren’t necessarily the best performers. Atlanta and Chicago ranked No. 3 and 5 overall, respectively. And Boston improved its ranking from No. 52 to No. 17 since the last study, which analyzed performance in the second half of 2015. New York City and Los Angeles, however, ranked at No. 76 and 94, respectively. The other largest cities, such as Miami, Houston and Washington D.C. failed even to crack the top 50.

The top five overall cities for cell performance and coverage were Lansing, Mich.; Indianapolis; Atlanta; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Chicago, in that order. The bottom five were Lancaster, Pa.; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Scranton, Pa.; Omaha, Neb.; and in last place was Hudson Valley, N.Y.

In addition to an overall first place ranking, Lansing also took first place for reception reliability and call performance. Atlanta took first for network speed and data performance. And Palm Bay, Fla., can hang its hat on being the No. 1 place in the U.S. for texting performance.

RootMetrics' map provides a detailed analysis of each city’s performance along with historical comparison data.