New York and Los Angeles Airports Worst for Cellular Service

Jan 29, 2017

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Ever wonder why it seems impossible to send or receive emails as you’re waiting for your flight to take off from Los Angeles or New York? According to a recent study by Ookla, LAX, LaGuardia and JFK have the worst cellular connectivity among airports in the US.

The same company behind Speedtest, the benchmark test for connectivity speeds, expanded on its previous research across the United States by testing cellular data speeds at the top 20 busiest airports by passenger departures. The data revealed LaGuardia has the worst cellular data connectivity, with downloads averaging just 7.25 Megabits per second (Mbps). In comparison, Ookla estimates the average household internet speed to be just over seven times that speed.

Coming in second was LAX, with average download speeds of about 8 Mbps. John F. Kennedy International Airport, which will undergo a $10 billion upgrade in the coming years, came in third worst for cellular data speed, with average download speeds of just over 10 Mbps. The airports in Charlotte and Miami rounded out the top five worst airports.

When it comes to using the Wi-Fi at the airport, five different airports had the slowest internet speeds. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was the overall slowest, with an average download speed of 2.71 Mbps. Orlando came in second, with an average download speed double of ATL. Several other airports, including San Francisco, Las Vegas McCarran, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix SkyHarbor, Boston Logan and Charlotte, also average download speeds less than 10 Mbps when on public Wi-Fi networks.

Across the country, getting the fastest speeds is as much about location as your cellular provider. Image courtesy  of Ookla.

On the flip side, Detroit Metropolitan Airport offered the fastest overall internet connection for mobile devices, with the average cellular download clocking in at just over 45 Mbps. At this speed, it would take approximately 6 minutes to download a movie. San Francisco came in second, with cellular data reaching speeds over 35 Mbps, while Minneapolis-St. Paul came in third with an average cellular data download of 30 Mbps.

For those who want to save their data, the fastest Wi-Fi connection can be found at Denver International Airport, with average download speeds clocking in at over 50 Mbps. Philadelphia International Airport came in a close second, followed by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami.

The study found that overall speed was not just affected by where passengers travel, but by their cellular carrier as well. AT&T and Verizon split the map with cellular speeds, offering the fastest download speeds at 18 of the 20 surveyed airports. Verizon had the advantage in the Northeast, with the fastest download speeds at Boston, Newark Liberty International Airport and JFK, while AT&T was faster in the Southwest cities of Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Featured image courtesy of Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via Getty Images

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