updated 10:45 pm EDT, Wed May 5, 2010
ATT argues call reliability gap is small
AT&T tonight as expected has disputed a recent study claiming that it has had worsening dropped call results. The carrier referred to a report from the previously cited third-party firm GWS that argued AT&T was just "two tenths" of a percent away from the top marks in call reliability from an unnamed leader, which is commonly thought to be Verizon. AT&T argued that the results were at a "virtual dead-heat" and that its network was still the fastest.
The GWS study is deemed more comprehensive as it involved "millions" of recorded tests where the ChangeWave research had involved anecdotal reports from a few thousand users that couldn't be easily tracked.
The assertions are still somewhat at odds with the experiences of some smartphone owners, particularly in known trouble spots such as New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area where 3G remains slow or unusable in certain areas. AT&T has been rolling out concentrated upgrade plans in these areas and has cited the most observable improvements in Manhattan. However, problems continue to exist and have provided inconsistent speed results even in less smartphone-heavy areas. AT&T's network is potentially faster through its use of 7.2Mbps HSPA for 3G versus the slower EVDO Rev A used by Sprint and Verizon, but the service hasn't yet reached all 3G areas and currently has a 3.6Mbps theoretical peak on most of its network.
A recent Consumer Reports study, albeit before AT&T's most recent upgrade wave, put the carrier at the back of the rankings due largely to hotspots that haven't coped with the load of the iPhone and other smart devices.