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As we head into the holidays, many Americans are weighing new smartphone purchases. That’s especially the case with the blockbuster arrival last week of Apple’s new iPhone 4S on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. But, as we all know, it is not just about the phone itself.

You’ve got to have a solid network operating in the background. In Seattle, at least according to a new report out today from RootMetrics, the best choice at the moment for wireless service is Verizon. After more than 27,000 call, data and text tests in the Seattle area, Verizon came out on top as having the fastest and most reliable network.

At 14.5 Mbps, the Verizon network’s average download speed was faster than the maximum download speeds of any other carrier. Meanwhile, its average 9.6 Mbps upload speed was more than eight times faster than the closest rival.

That was a big jump from the last report by RootMetrics in which Verizon ranked third.

AT&T and T-Mobile tied for second in network performance, followed by Sprint which recorded just 0.5 Mbps in 37 percent of the RootMetrics’ tests. That was a big fall for Sprint, which ranked first for network performance in tests earlier this year.

“More than anything else, our visits to the Seattle area show just how quickly the mobile performance landscape is changing,” the report says.

To test the networks, RootMetrics used a HTC myTOuch 4G Slide from T-Mobile; a HTC Thunderbolt from Verizon; the Samsung Epic from Sprint; and the Samsung Infuse from AT&T. Tests were conducted both indoors and outdoors across some 2,400 miles in the Seattle area.

Interestingly, the report found that data failures were higher in Seattle than in other markets.

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