updated 12:02 pm EDT, Thu May 31, 2012
Sprint found to be worst 3G performer in all cities measured
A study suggests that AT&T has the fastest 3G network but lacks consistency in connection speed, reports CNN Money. Data from the CarrierCompare app (free, App Store) found the connection offered by Verizon, although half the speed of AT&T, to be far more consistent throughout the day. Sprint appeared to be the slowest of the three carriers, however it had the most consistency in the tests.
AT&T had the highest speed in all the tested cities, however performance was found to be wildly inconsistent depending on the time of day, with network congestion in the afternoons causing what CNN Money dubs a "crapshoot." AT&T runs an HSPA+ network, an enhanced 3G service it calls 4G--not to be confused with 4G LTE.
In five of the six cities Verizon was the second fastest carrier, losing out to Sprint in New York. Speeds were found to be between 50 and 72 percent of AT&T measurements, but network speed was more consistent over the day with less variance on a per-hour basis. Verizon was also seen to have the quickest network response time, being twice as quick as AT&T, which is said to combine with consistency to make the network appear quicker.
Sprint had the slowest measured speeds of the three carriers, barely beating Verizon in New York. In that city, it managed to reach three-quarters of AT&Ts speed, but overall managed only a third. Response times were seen to be slow, taking three times as long to commence page loading, and network lag was seen to be the worst in all of the cities. Sprint did have the most consistent experience, however.
SwayMarkets, creators of the CarrierCompare app, collected up to 40,000 data points in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington DC. Care was taken to "ensure representative sampling over both location and time" according to Amos Epstein, co-founder of the Boston-based startup, adding that all the data was crowdsourced and therefore "more indicative of customer's actual experience with their phones."