Nationwide test reveals carrier 3G, 4G speeds across cities
The expansion to 4G LTE networks and new, faster data networks, carriers have started throwing buzzwords like HSPA, HSPA+ (officially 4G) and 4G LTE around, and you might feel lost about the actual speeds you are promised. The most comprehensive test of carrier data speeds we've seen is one done by PCWorld, where the publication tested how 3G and 4G performed in 13 of the biggest US cities.
The initial results were released earlier with T-Mobile grabbing the 3G crown and for 4G it was a close race between AT&T and Verizon, but the latter has more coverage which gives it an edge.
And for 4G the situation was even more stratified. AT&T's 4G blew the competition out of the water in Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Verizon was the best 4G choice in Denver, New Orleans, San Jose, and Seattle.
So bottomline is that much of it all depends on location. Even the big loser, Sprint's WiMAX had a solid performance in some markets like Boston. So when picking your carrier, check out how each of the major US operators scored in different markets and make an informed decision for your region.
It's all at the source link below, along with a map, conveniently visualizing the results.
1. I_Slap_Fat_Kids (Posts: 39; Member since: 04 May 2012)
Heh, I'm in Phoenix and with Sprint, and my average 3G speeds are even lower than the nation-wide average. Not to mention that I don't have 4G coverage here... Now I see why it's "Truly Unlimited."
16. -box- (Posts: 3565; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
Yep. Just proves yet again what I've been saying for years. It may be unlimited, but it's the slowest of the big 4, and by a wide margin
19. threeline (Posts: 252; Member since: 11 Sep 2011)
I live in PHX as well and Sprint is horrible.
2. Nickmfnjackson (Posts: 100; Member since: 21 Jan 2010)
I'm on Tmobile in north Louisiana. I get 18/mbps down and 2.8/mbps up on hspda+. Lte is overrated anyway...
4. kshell1 (Posts: 1141; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
I have an Infuse that i rotate between tmo and att and when i flash tmo radios onto it i get 7mbps but on atts network 1-2 if im lucky
6. Galen20K (Posts: 504; Member since: 26 Dec 2008)
Well I wouldn't exactly say that LTE is overated, but I do have to say that T-Mobile's HSPA+42 network is always great to Amazing for me and will be a really great fallback once T-Mobile turns on LTE-Advanced release 10 equipment next year. Both technologies compliment each other very well, which is why I just love a fully GSM carrier.
7. kshell1 (Posts: 1141; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
they have hspa 7.2 14.4 21 42+ and in a year LTE, they have a lot of tech thats for damn sure
24. dmckay12 (Posts: 242; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)
I am from Shreveport and one of my friends had T-Mobile and her service was awful.
26. dmckay12 (Posts: 242; Member since: 25 Feb 2012)
I have Verizon. The lowest I get is 12 mbps, which is at my house. I live pretty far away from the rest of the city and because of my metal roof the signals from all other carriers are blocked. When I am at school, however, I have usually get over 20 mbps, even through the 100 year-old brick walls and asbestos.
3. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
my 3g SGS1 gets 5mpbs. They must have hit a bad patch somewhere to skew the numbers so low. Eh, either way, for half the monthly cost of VZW/ATT, your still getting great service and the largest 4G area there is. And unlike VZW, when it falls back to 3g, your falling back to 7.2mb/s, not 2mb/s so u still get healthy speeds.
5. kshell1 (Posts: 1141; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
even 7.2mbps is more than fast enough for usual tasks unless your streaming HD movies or porn then itll buffer lol not much though.
14. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
i have no complaints about Tmobile's 3G. I have yet to own a 4g device. My wife has had a few, but I'm just a stubborn hold out for the perfect phone i guess. lol
17. kshell1 (Posts: 1141; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
I used to have the G2x and its speeds were just constantly 10mbps download 2mbps upload.
27. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
and that phone isnt even capable of the upper half of the network :)
18. -box- (Posts: 3565; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
Same here, I have "3.5G" with the C7 Astound, and my Sensation doesn't go on-network (use it for games and apps on WiFi), whereas my wife's Torch cruises on 4G, as does my other faimly members' 2 Sensations
8. tward291 (Posts: 559; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)
it all depends on were you live in indianapolis i have had the best service with verizon but when i switched to tmobile my speeds were more consistant and fast but not as fast as verizon
15. Phullofphil (Posts: 798; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)
Portland area I get any where from a low of 7 to a high of 38 mbs on Verizon 4g on average it's about 22 in eastern part of the area. Galaxy nexus. But my 3G is Worcester now that they turned on LTE. My guess is to get people to switch. My iPad 2 gets enough to play a streaming movie on Netflix and such but you tube is Horace and I have to pause to wait for video to load. I believe untill they have upload speeds match download spreads actual speeds are actually at the lowest level of the connection. Such as if I am downloading 100 mbs and I download a file from a server sending it 2 mbs it's going to be choked out at 2 mbs. My Comcast or xfinity cable is suposed to be 15mbs but I get 2 to 4 on speed test. I rember when if I was getting half a megabyte per second it seembed to get better actual experience from streaming material than a suposed 10 mbs setup
20. -box- (Posts: 3565; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
So to summarize, GSM with HSPA+ and LTE is the faster infrastructure and best overall for data speeds, and AT&T and T-Mobile are the best nationwide choices for a smartphone owner. This will be even moreso the case when LTE-Advanced deploys
21. kshell1 (Posts: 1141; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
GSM has a smaller coverage but its by far the superior tech.
22. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
for voice CDMA is the superior tech. For data, GSM is. All depends on what you want. Doesnt matter much though, in 5 years or so CDMA will be dead as VZW and Sprint move to all LTE... then GSM right behind it.
23. theoak (Posts: 318; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)
It is kind of interesting ... for 4G ... if you look at the video streaming numbers, it does not really matter which flavor of 4G, all the video streaming numbers where pretty much neck and neck.
25. mrfamous1 (Posts: 26; Member since: 25 Apr 2012)
I have At&t and my speeds are remarkable. Verizon is good but it cuts out all the time. At&t and Tmobile is the future when it comes to Data. Thats why At&t was trying to buy them.
28. codymws (Posts: 236; Member since: 17 Jun 2010)
It really depends on where you are... like here in Salem, OR, I get 30 to 50 Mbps over LTE on Verizon, but somewhere else AT&T might get better speeds...
29. I_Slap_Fat_Kids (Posts: 39; Member since: 04 May 2012)
I doubt your LTE connection is getting faster data speeds than my cable connection.
30. Forsaken77 (Posts: 542; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)
i don't get one thing. In NY you got a carrier with the fastest speeds, but it takes the longest to load a web page. WTF is up with that? You can't be the fastest if your web pages take forever to load. Seems like it's a$$ backwards. Also, Verizon has the slowest download of the 4G carriers in NY, but the fastest upload. Their upload is faster than their download lmao!