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Best cellphone service in Buffalo Niagara? AT&T, Verizon are tied

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have the fastest and most reliable wireless networks in the Buffalo Niagara region, with the two providers finishing in a statistical tie in the most recent independent performance test conducted in the area.

Verizon, however, eked out a victory over AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint in the rankings of the providers’ state and national networks.

Those are the latest findings from RootMetrics, a Bellevue, Wash., company that tests how well the networks of the major wireless providers carry phone calls and text messages and upload and download data.

“Those results reflect our ongoing investment in, and commitment to, our network locally and nationwide,” said John O’Malley, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless in upstate New York, in a statement.

RootMetrics says it conducts tests on the providers’ networks to give consumers better information they can use when selecting a wireless company.

Testers attempt to make phone calls, send text messages and upload and download data from inside and outside buildings and in urban and rural locations across a given market at all times of the day and night.

The company started its network testing in 2008 and first sent a team to the Buffalo area in 2011. AT&T came out on top in that initial test, but Verizon took over the top spot in the next round of tests in 2012 and 2013.

Results from its sixth test in the Buffalo Niagara market, released this summer, show AT&T had a combined RootScore of 97, while Verizon came in at 96.9, with RootMetrics declaring the two providers co-winners. T-Mobile came in third at 94.2, and Sprint came in fourth at 87.8.

Those scores were based on 20,000 individual tests conducted as the RootMetrics team drove 923 miles to and from 25 indoor locations in the area.

RootMetrics pooled together the results of tests conducted across the country to put together statewide and national rankings. Verizon edged out AT&T in New York and in the national rankings, which came out this week, with T-Mobile trailing in third place in both rankings and Sprint lagging behind in third.

The providers have spent billions of dollars here and across the country updating their networks to perform at the fast speeds demanded by their customers.

Verizon, for example, said it is continuing to expand its XLTE network in this market, adding that technology to five existing sites in Buffalo, Concord and Alexander in Genesee County, as well as to new sites in Amherst, Lockport and Batavia. The provider says its XLTE network offers double the bandwidth of its 4G LTE network, allowing for faster peak data speeds.

AT&T launched its 4G LTE network in this area in 2012, and since last year has expanded the network to more than 60 cellular sites in Erie and Niagara counties while improving capacity across the region. From 2011 through 2013, AT&T invested more than $35 million in its Buffalo-area network.

“AT&T is working hard to enhance the network experience in the Buffalo area and across the state for our customers,” Ellen Webner, an AT&T spokeswoman for upstate New York, said in a statement.