updated 06:05 pm EST, Mon December 21, 2009
ATT faster in 3G, as reliable as Verizon
AT&T tonight landed an unusual victory in a cross-country network test. Checking across 12 major cities, including well-known trouble spots like New York City and San Francisco, Gizmodo finds that AT&T led in average speeds for half of the cities and that the network was roughly as stable as Verizon's in the areas tested.
Verizon had the edge in three cities, while Sprint and T-Mobile had the best performance in one city each. The latter is partly hindered by its relatively new 3G network.
The edge for AT&T is due partly to its use of the HSPA standard for 3G. Its network is potentially faster compared to most EVDO networks and particularly has a technical advantage in upload speeds, where AT&T had the advantage in all 12 cities. It's not clear whether testing was able to make use of those few areas where AT&T's network is using its faster 7.2Mbps peak service.
While a potential validation for AT&T, which has made a point of upgrading its network to improve capacity, the test was performed using notebook adapters and doesn't necessarily test performance for smartphone owners. These, especially iPhone owners, have been the most vocal about problems with dropped calls and slowdowns to 2G. AT&T has gone so far as to encourage reduced 3G use to reduce the risk of impacting the service for other customers.