When it comes to mobile broadband the first question that consumers tend to ask is, “which network is the fastest.” PC World magazine in the US, or at least its web site, has attempted to answer this question with a test of the four major US networks, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, across 13 cities. 4G was tested in locations that offered it, and 3G where it wasn’t.
Two things surprised me from this test. Firstly, that phones were used rather than dongles. Dongles would be a truer test of a network, as their design will be more optimised for data with greater surface area for the antenna and no interference from all the other bits that have to go into a phone.
The other was that Verizon didn’t win – AT&T did. Sure enough, it’s come out against the results, though the best it could muster in terms of an argument was, ‘everyone else normally says we’re better’.
The results show AT&T topping the 4G pile with an average of 8.35Mbps outdoors, while Verizon hit 7.61Mbps. This is less than the 8-12Mbps is says its users will get on average from LTE – so perhaps the use of phones rather than dongles has hurt it here.
Interestingly, PC World seems to have considered 4G the same way that AT-T , including HSPA+ as a fall back from LTE that’s sitll ‘4G’. This has possibly helped it win based as its 3G speeds HSPA+ speeds are higher than Verizon’s CDMA2000 3G speeds, pushing up its average.
The results also show that Sprint really is in desperate need of an LTE upgrade. WiMAX simply hasn’t kept up with later 3G technologies such as HSPA+ making something of a mockery of it being the first to adopt the ‘4G’ moniker’.
If you’re in the US, do the results smack true for you? Let us know in the comments.
The LTE World Summit is taking place on the 23-24 May 2012 CCIB, Barcelona, Spain. Click here to register your http://ws.lteconference.com/interest.