National 3G data speeds are put to the test

National 3G data speeds are put to the test

Summary: Ask any person about the service from his or her cell phone provider and you'll usually get a variety of answers - often dependent on where that person lives and works. In Washington D.

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Ask any person about the service from his or her cell phone provider and you'll usually get a variety of answers - often dependent on where that person lives and works. In Washington D.C., where I used to live, Verizon was king. You could actually make calls and surf the mobile web from the underground tunnels where the Metro subway trains operate. In California, my service has been better than fair but friends tell me that AT&T is best here. Hmmm...

For the most part, consumers still make their decisions based on call signals. But geeks like me think more about the data signal - especially now that everyone seems to be pushing the broadband-like 3G speeds. If you're waiting for the wireless carriers to give you a region-by-region comparison of their service against their competitors' service, you'll have a long wait. Thankfully, a team of bloggers over at Gizmodo took it upon themselves to conduct a somewhat-scientific test of coast-to-coast 3G data speeds, using data cards to connect to the web.

I call it scientific because these guys at least had a plan and some criteria set before they went out and started running tests. Their test cities were Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, Portland, Raleigh, San Francisco and Seattle. It's tough to say that there was any one winner. Again, location is everything.

But what was surprising was that Sprint - the company that's been trailing the competition in recent times - consistently had some of the strongest signals across the country. Check out the Gizmodo post - which offers details on the test, as well as some granular data on the tests conducted within each city. How they did it is pretty interesting and the city-by-city results offer some great insight in case you'll be visiting or relocating to any of these areas.

bandwidth tests

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Networking, Wi-Fi

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8 comments
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  • So the moral is..

    If you live in Portland don't use Verizon and if you live in Boston don't use AT&T, and if you live in NYC use Sprint and dump your home connection. Now if only I could convince any of them to bring a 3G service to BFE.
    ShadowGIATL
  • RE: National 3G data speeds are put to the test

    Bandwidth, schmandwidth. The latency over mobile networks can be pretty crummy in some areas so if you have a chatty real-time application you can expect it to behave like a snail even if it doesn't have much in the way of data payloads. I know the vast majority of effort for the mobile carries is focused on delivering your mail attachments and multimedia content to and from the phone, but as long as the latency is poor some specialist application providers are still stuck with running fiber out to remote locations.
    jmondanaro
  • RE: National 3G data speeds are put to the test

    Sprint may have a good data network but the attitudes displayed by the Customer Service folks and their corporate offices is really bad. As long as you don't have a problem, it's probably really good but if you have a problem, everyone up to their CEO's office is a real jerk to deal with.
    rich1@...
    • Observation Noted However....

      This article references the data network and EVERYONE knows about the customer service. That's not the point. When I used to be on Sprint (for around 12 years), I would have put their data network up against anyone and to this day, I still believe they have one of, if not the best, data network around. Yes, it's overshadowed by poor leadership and customer service but the fact is the network is tops....period.

      As a matter of fact, the only reason I left them was that at the time (around 3 years ago), Verizon was the only carrier to offer 3G connectivity in upstate NY when I needed it and Sprint did not, so I defected and haven't looked back taking all factors into account. Yes, I miss their data network, but several other factors have me thinking I made a smarter overall decision.
      jbjtkbw00
  • California here

    And I have by far the best luck with AT&T. Verizon is pretty decent in a lot of areas, sprint is worthless. They have coverage in cities, but nothing rural.

    As for speeds, that really seems to vary. There is no 3G where I live from any carrier. But the edge with AT&T is the fastest edge I have ever used (probably due to the low population density).

    In bigger cities, 3G is available, but is generally very busy so its not blinding fast by any means.
    Stuka
  • The ONLY reason to have 3G ...

    Remote access on the road is the main/only reason to have a wireless data service. Speed is useless if you CAN'T reach it. If you don't own a car or don't travel then local speed in your area becomes the priority. If you don't live in a major population area then AT&T or Verizon are your only options unless you can afford two way satelite service.
    This comparison is interesting but otherwise useless.
    kd5auq
  • RE: National 3G data speeds are put to the test

    I'm puzzled why T-Mobile wasn't tested? To kd5auq, urbanites hit the web on their walking or riding commutes all the time so it's still important. My commute's 50 min. one way.
    G1drone
  • RE: National 3G data speeds are put to the test

    3G coverage in the UK pretty much sucks, unless you are within city limits. Even then, it is patchy and almost impossibgle to rely on.

    Thank god for free Public WiFi Hotspots :-)
    neil.postlethwaite