Study: T-Mobile offers fastest 3G, AT&T has quickest 4G

By on April 19, 2012, 7:30 AM

Wondering which wireless carrier has the fastest network? PCWorld set out to answer that question, testing several handsets indoors and outdoors across Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. through 2011 and 2012.

T-Mobile had a strong showing, offering the fastest overall 3G performance with download speeds averaging 3.84Mb/s and uploads averaging 1.44Mb/s. By comparison, AT&T came in second with 2.62Mb/s and 0.85Mb/s, Verizon followed with rates of 1.05Mb/s and 0.75Mb/s, and Sprint came in last with 0.59Mb/s and 0.56Mb/s.

T-Mobile exhibited some of the largest increases in 3G performance in the last year, with downloads jumping from 2.56Mb/s to 3.7Mb/s and uploads going from 0.92Mb/s to 1.41Mb/s. The company also fared best when PCWorld measured indoor 4G performance changes (T-Mobile gained 18.40%, everyone else lost speed).

However, AT&T and Verizon aced T-Mobile in overall 4G performance. The former outfit provided the fastest average 4G download speeds at 9.12Mb/s, while the latter offered the quickest average 4G upload rates at 5.86Mb/s. It's worth noting that the data excludes cities where the companies don't actually have 4G coverage.

Sprint was the all-around loser, offering the worst average 3G and 4G speeds, as well as the most indoor lag when measuring 4G performance (-12.70%, roughly twice the dip experienced on AT&T and Verizon). PCWorld concluded that Sprint has stopped developing its networks while looking to shift 4G from WiMax to LTE.




User Comments: 8

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SCJake said:

"PCWorld concluded that Sprint has stopped developing its networks while looking to shift 4G from WiMax to LTE"

Now im no expert on how the wireless broadcasting technology is actually engineered, but you would think thats kinda a duh? why continue to develop a technology that you're looking at dumping? its called a moneypit for a reason

Guest said:

To me personally, the study is kind of in the side of error for the 4G speeds. AT&T was the last if near last company to make an effort to roll out 4G. As such, they don't have many customers on it as let's say Verizon Wireless & T-Mobile. Therefore, the download speeds will be higher when you're not having to cut the bandwidth down due to hundreds to thousands of other users fighting for the same bandwidth.

Guest said:

Moneypit or not, every decent company, regardless of what their plans for the future should support the existing customer base until they migrate to a new technology as best as they can. Once a customer leaves a company it is unlikely that they will ever come back.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I can't believe T-Mobile and Sprint are still in business.

CrisisDog said:

Yay T-Mobile! Does this mean I should dig my Samsung Vibrant out of the junk drawer?

Guest said:

I've been with sprint (charter member) for 15 years...

I've owned a 4G phone for 18 months in a major metro area and still have no 4G service. Not only that, but my service has worsened over the last 2 years and every webpage takes more than a minute.

This weekend I am moving to Verizon & getting a cheap Lucid phone until >uly & going wp7 phone.

Dan Heiss (sp?) Phookered up Sprint.. instead of crying in front of Congress over the merger, he should've been spending Billions building out his network, not paying Apple...

Goodbye Sprint.....

Guest said:

This article is absolutely irrelevant unless you live in a major metropolitan area.

Try T-Mobile in a rural area. Like, Indiana or Kansas. I had to call 911 three times before finally giving up and using my friend's Verizon phone. T-mobile's service SUCKs.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I've owned a 4G phone for 18 months in a major metro area and still have no 4G service. Not only that, but my service has worsened over the last 2 years and every webpage takes more than a minute.

Thanks for writing that out, Guest, so I didn't have to. Sprint actually has 4G in milwaukee now... It doesn't stay connected for more than a minute or two, and is only around .75 MB/s, but it's there. Even in Chicago 4G doesn't stay connected.

Sprint's 4G is slower than (and the same as) some other's 3G. Here I used to the think Apple was crazy for not including 4G, but really 3G is just fine for many many people.

The only thing lower than Sprint's download speed is it's share price.

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