The Mystery of Why Mobile Speeds in Denver Are So Terrible

Additional photos below.
Additional photos below.
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Denver has a reputation as one of the more technologically advanced cities in the country — yet, as we've reported, our cell-phone service has a national reputation for sucking.

And two new reports reinforce it.

According to data from the websites RootMetrics and Ookla, Denver's mobile speeds are among the worst in the United States. The woeful numbers and rankings are on view below in all their hideous glory.

But that leaves the question of why Denver has such persistent mobile speed issues — and according to Annette Hamilton, RootMetrics' director of influencer and analyst engagement, there's no definitive answer.

"We don't know exactly why the mobile performance in Denver is historically not good, relatively speaking, compared to the rest of the U.S.," Hamilton acknowledges. "But we have some theories."

Among them is the mountainous terrain in the area.

"We do know that other Rocky Mountain cities do seem to have similar problems," she notes. "That suggests a geographical issue" — and indeed, Colorado Springs does almost as badly in RootMetrics' most recent mobile-speed survey as Denver.

The Mystery of Why Mobile Speeds in Denver Are So Terrible
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As we've reported, the mountains and foothills play havoc with Denver radio signals, particularly on the FM band. Moreover, Hamilton says, "mobile phones use the radio spectrum — and when I talk about how the different spectrums can impact performance, I often use the analogy of AM and FM radio waves."

One of the main spectrums used by mobile networks "is called the 700 megahertz spectrum," she says. "It's more like AM. It's a slow, sort of long-range radio wave that goes a long distance, but it's not very fast. And then another spectrum that some carriers use — T-Mobile has deployed it in some markets — is the 2.5 gigahertz spectrum. It's very short-wave and goes faster, but it's not going to go through buildings or mountains or around corners. It's more like an FM signal and pretty much line-of-sight."

Hamilton says mobile-phone service providers have been doing their best to overcome these issues. "LTE, which is responsible for 4G mobile coverage, is pretty well saturated in the Denver area," she emphasizes. "That suggests the carriers have invested heavily in the latest and greatest technologies in the Denver area, and it still hasn't made that much of a difference. Maybe a new technology will come along and solve these problems we're facing in Denver, but we don't know what that would be or when it might happen."

Another possible factor when it comes to lagging mobile speeds "has to do with the population explosion you're experiencing," Hamilton adds. "You guys are growing like crazy, and the more people you get on a mobile network, the more stress it puts on that network — and the less well that network is likely to perform. So it could be a combination of geography challenges and population. But we still can't pinpoint what's going on."

That's not especially reassuring to those of us who chronically experience dropped calls, terrible connections and more.

Continue to see Denver's terrible mobile speeds performance in two photo-illustrated reports.

 

The Mystery of Why Mobile Speeds in Denver Are So Terrible
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Rootmetrics' Best and Worst Cities for Mobile Performance

1. Lansing, Michigan
Population: 313,532 — Pop. rank: #117
98.5

2. Indianapolis, Indiana
Population: 1,487,483 — Pop. rank: #32
98.2

3. Atlanta, Georgia
Population: 4,515,419 — Pop. rank: #9
97.9

4. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Population: 1,376,476 — Pop. rank: #34
97.6

5. Chicago, Illinois
Population: 8,608,208 — Pop. rank: #3
97.5

6. Knoxville, Tennessee
Population: 558,696 — Pop. rank: #73
97.4

7. Modesto, California
Population: 358,172 — Pop. rank: #104
97.4

8. Sacramento, California
Population: 1,723,634 — Pop. rank: #27
97.4

9. Tampa, Florida
Population: 2,441,770 — Pop. rank: #17
97.4

10. Jackson, Mississippi
Population: 351,478 — Pop. rank: #106
97.4

11. Kansas City, Missouri
Population: 1,519,417 — Pop. rank: #30
97.3

12. Columbus, Ohio
Population: 1,368,035 — Pop. rank: #35
97.3

13. Orlando, FL
Population: 1,510,516 - Pop. rank: #31
97.3

14. Mobile, Alabama
Population: 326,183 — Pop. rank: #114
97.3

15. Richmond, Virginia
Population: 953,556 — Pop. rank: #44
97.2

16. Fresno, California
Population: 654,628 — Pop. rank: #62
97.2

17. Boston, Massachusetts
Population: 4,181,019 — Pop. rank: #10
97.1

18. Dallas, Texas
Population: 5,121,892 — Pop. rank: #6
97.1

19. Temecula, California
Population: 441,546 — Pop. rank: #86
97.1

20. Seattle, Washington
Population: 3,059,393 — Pop. rank: #14
97.1

21. Fayetteville, North Carolina
Population: 310,282 — Pop. rank: #121
97.1

22. Bakersfield, California
Population: 523,994 — Pop. rank: #78
97.0

23. Charlotte, North Carolina
Population: 1,249,442 — Pop. rank: #37
97.0

24. Fort Wayne, Indiana
Population: 313,492 — Pop. rank: #118
97.0

25. Port St. Lucie, Florida
Population: 376,047 — Pop. rank: #100
97.0

26. Syracuse, New York
Population: 412,317 — Pop. rank: #89
97.0

27. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Population: 2,650,890 — Pop. rank: #16
97.0

28. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Population: 381,112 — Pop. rank: #99
97.0

29. Little Rock, Arkansas
Population: 431,388 — Pop. rank: #87
96.9

30. Rockford, Illinois
Population: 296,863 — Pop. rank: #125
96.9

31. Greensboro, North Carolina
Population: 311,810 — Pop. rank: #119
96.9

32. Concord, California
Population: 615,968 — Pop. rank: #65
96.9

33. Louisville, Kentucky
Population: 972,546 — Pop. rank: #42
96.9

34. Des Moines, Iowa
Population: 450,070 — Pop. rank: #84
96.9

35. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Population: 306,022 — Pop. rank: #123
96.8

36. Cleveland, Ohio
Population: 1,780,673 — Pop. rank: #24
96.8

37. Buffalo, New York
Population: 935,906 — Pop. rank: #45
96.8

38. Hampton Roads, Virginia
Population: 1,439,666 — Pop. rank: #33
96.8

39. Palm Bay, Florida
Population: 452,791 — Pop. rank: #83
96.7

40. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Population: 5,441,567 — Pop. rank: #5
96.7

The Mystery of Why Mobile Speeds in Denver Are So Terrible
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41. Portland, Oregon
Population: 1,849,898 — Pop. rank: #23
96.7

42. Akron, Ohio
Population: 569,499 — Pop. rank: #70
96.7

43. Salt Lake City, Utah
Population: 1,021,243 — Pop. rank: #41
96.7

44. Shreveport, Louisiana
Population: 298,317 — Pop. rank: #124
96.6

45. Pensacola, Florida
Population: 340,067 — Pop. rank: #112
96.6

46. Cincinnati, Ohio
Population: 1,624,827 — Pop. rank: #29
96.6

47. Augusta, Georgia
Population: 386,787 — Pop. rank: #97
96.6

48. Memphis, Tennessee
Population: 1,060,061 — Pop. rank: #40
96.5

49. San Jose, California
Population: 1,664,496 — Pop. rank: #28
96.5

50. Columbia, South Carolina
Population: 549,777 — Pop. rank: #74
96.5

51. Houston, Texas
Population: 4,944,332 — Pop. rank: #7
96.5

52. Ogden, Utah
Population: 546,026 — Pop. rank: #76
96.5

53. Detroit, Michigan
Population: 3,734,090 — Pop. rank: #11
96.5

54. Wichita, Kansas
Population: 472,870 — Pop. rank: #82
96.4

55. Spokane, Washington
Population: 387,847 — Pop. rank: #95
96.4

56. Honolulu, Hawaii
Population: 802,459 — Pop. rank: #53
96.4

57. Fort Myers, Florida
Population: 530,290 — Pop. rank: #77
96.4

58. San Francisco, California
Population: 3,281,212 — Pop. rank: #13
96.3

59. New York and the Tri-State Area, New York
Population: 18,351,295 — Pop. rank: #1
96.3

60. Toledo, Ohio
Population: 507,643 — Pop. rank: #79
96.3

61. Stockton, California
Population: 370,583 — Pop. rank: #101
96.3

62. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Population: 655,479 — Pop. rank: #61
96.2

63. Nashville, Tennessee
Population: 969,587 — Pop. rank: #43
96.2

64. Phoenix, Arizona
Population: 3,629,114 — Pop. rank: #12
96.2

65. Denton, Texas
Population: 366,174 — Pop. rank: #103
96.2

66. Washington, D.C.
Population: 4,586,770 — Pop. rank: #8
96.1

67. St. Louis, Missouri
Population: 2,150,706 — Pop. rank: #20
96.1

68. Rochester, New York
Population: 720,572 — Pop. rank: #59
96.1

69. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Population: 444,474 — Pop. rank: #85
96.1

70. New Orleans, Louisiana
Population: 899,703 — Pop. rank: #48
96.1

71. Provo, Utah
Population: 482,819 — Pop. rank: #81
96.1

72. Madison, Wisconsin
Population: 401,661 — Pop. rank: #91
96.0

73. San Antonio, Texas
Population: 1,758,210 — Pop. rank: #25
96.0

74. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Population: 594,309 — Pop. rank: #67
96.0

75. Grand Rapids, Michigan
Population: 569,935 — Pop. rank: #69
96.0

76. Corpus Christi, Texas
Population: 320,069 — Pop. rank: #115
95.9

77. Durham, North Carolina
Population: 347,602 - Pop. rank: #109
95.9

78. Kissimmee, Florida
Population: 314,071 — Pop. rank: #116
95.9

79. Jacksonville, Florida
Population: 1,065,219 - Pop. rank: #39
95.8

80. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Population: 1,733,853 — Pop. rank: #26
95.8

The Mystery of Why Mobile Speeds in Denver Are So Terrible
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81. Austin, Texas
Population: 1,362,416 - Pop. rank: #36
95.8

82. Oxnard, California
Population: 367,260 - Pop. rank: #102
95.8

83. Baltimore, Maryland
Population: 2,203,663 — Pop. rank: #19
95.7

84. Miami, Florida
Population: 5,502,379 - Pop. rank: #4
95.7

85. Raleigh, North Carolina
Population: 884,891 — Pop. rank: #49
95.7

86. Youngstown, Ohio
Population: 387,550 — Pop. rank: #96
95.7

87. Greenville, South Carolina
Population: 400,492 — Pop. rank: #92
95.5

88. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Population: 861,505 — Pop. rank: #50
95.5

89. Flint, Michigan
Population: 356,218 — Pop. rank: #105
95.4

90. San Diego, California
Population: 2,956,746 — Pop. rank: #15
95.4

91. Victor Valley, California
Population: 328,454 — Pop. rank: #113
95.3

92. Daytona Beach, Florida
Population: 349,064 — Pop. rank: #108
95.2

93. Riverside, California
Population: 1,932,666 — Pop. rank: #21
95.2

94. Dayton, Ohio
Population: 724,091 - Pop. rank: #58
95.2

95. Sarasota, Florida
Population: 643,260 — Pop. rank: #63
95.2

96. Worcester, Massachusetts
Population: 486,514 — Pop. rank: #80
95.2

97. Mission Viejo, California
Population: 583,681 — Pop. rank: #68
95.1

98. Allentown, Pennsylvania
Population: 664,651 — Pop. rank: #60
95.1

99. Los Angeles, California
Population: 12,150,996 — Pop. rank: #2
95.1

100. Las Vegas, Nevada
Population: 1,886,011 — Pop. rank: #22
95.1

101. Indio, California
Population: 345,580 — Pop. rank: #110
95.0

102. Antelope Valley, California
Population: 341,219 — Pop. rank: #111
95.0

103. Tucson, Arizona
Population: 843,168 — Pop. rank: #51
95.0

104. Charleston, South Carolina
Population: 548,404 — Pop. rank: #75
94.8

105. Bridgeport and Stamford, Connecticut
Population: 923,311 — Pop. rank: #47
94.7

106. Birmingham, Alabama
Population: 749,495 — Pop. rank: #54
94.7

107. Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Population: 391,024 — Pop. rank: #94
94.7

108. New Haven, Connecticut
Population: 562,839 — Pop. rank: #71
94.7

109. El Paso, Texas
Population: 803,086 — Pop. rank: #52
94.6

110. Providence, Rhode Island
Population: 1,190,956 — Pop. rank: #38
94.6

111. McAllen, Texas
Population: 728,825 — Pop. rank: #56
94.6

112. Albany, New York
Population: 594,962 — Pop. rank: #66
94.5

113. Springfield, Massachusetts
Population: 621,300 — Pop. rank: #64
94.5

114. Reno, Nevada
Population: 392,141 — Pop. rank: #93
94.4

115. Boise, Idaho
Population: 349,684 - Pop. rank: #107
94.2

116. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Population: 559,409 — Pop. rank: #72
94.0

117. Hartford, Connecticut
Population: 924,859 — Pop. rank: #46
93.9

118. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Population: 741,318 — Pop. rank: #55
93.9

119. Denver, Colorado
Population: 2,374,203 — Pop. rank: #18
93.8

120. Bonita Springs, Florida
Population: 310,298 - Pop. rank: #120
93.6

121. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Population: 402,004 — Pop. rank: #90
93.5

122. Santa Rosa, California
Population: 308,231 — Pop. rank: #122
93.3

123. Scranton, Pennsylvania
Population: 381,502 — Pop. rank: #98
91.9

124. Omaha, Nebraska
Population: 725,008 - Pop. rank: #57
91.3

125. Hudson Valley, New York
Population: 423,566 — Pop. rank: #88
88.1

The Mystery of Why Mobile Speeds in Denver Are So Terrible
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Ookla Speedtest Mobile Report

1. Sioux Falls, S.D., 24.64 mbps
2. Seattle, 23.34 mbps
3. Detroit, 22.13 mbps
4. Atlanta 21.98 mbps
5. San Francisco, 21.88 mbps
6. Minneapolis, 21.5 mbps
7. New York, 21.24 mbps
8. Jacksonville, Fla., 21.02 mbps
9. Birmingham, Ala., 21.01 mbps
10. Indianapolis, 20.76 mbps
11. San Diego, 20.75 mbps
12. San Jose, Calif., 20.61 mbps
13. Portland, Ore., 20.07 mbps
14. Columbus, Ohio, 19.94 mbps
15. Virginia Beach, Va., 18.91 mbps
16. Fargo, N.D., 18.85 mbps
17. Milwaukee, Wis., 18.78 mbps
18. Kansas City, Mo., 18.64 mbps
19. Miami, 18.64 mbps
20. Pittsburgh, 18.51 mbps
21. Chicago, 18.14 mbps
22. Austin, Texas, 18.1 mbps
23. Los Angeles, 17.93 mbps
24. Wichita, Kan., 17.85 mbps
25. Washington, D.C., 17.8 mbps
26. Dallas, 17.77 mbps
27. Louisville, Ky., 17.73 mbps
28. Billings, Mont., 17.61 mbps
29. Salt Lake City, 17.23 mbps
30. Philadelphia, 17.21 mbps
31. Memphis, Tenn., 17.07 mbps
32. Phoenix, 17.05 mbps
33. Boston, 16.78 mbps
34. Houston, Texas, 16.73 mbps
35. Omaha, Neb., 16.49 mbps
36. Baltimore, 16.22 mbps
37. Nashville, Tenn., 16.21 mbps
38. Charlotte, N.C., 15.91 mbps
39. Las Vegas, 15.75 mbps
40. Albuquerque, 15.37 mbps
41. Oklahoma City, 15.2 mbps
42. New Orleans, 14.93 mbps
43. Boise, Idaho , 14.7 mbps
44. Denver, 12.29 mbps
45. Portland, Maine, 10.14 mbps



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