Nationwide test reveals carrier 3G, 4G speeds across cities

Nationwide test reveals carrier 3G, 4G speeds across cities

The expansion to 4G LTE networks andnew, faster data networks, carriers have started throwing buzzwordslike HSPA, HSPA+ (officially 4G) and 4G LTE around, and you mightfeel lost about the actual speeds you are promised. The mostcomprehensive test of carrier data speeds we've seen is one done byPCWorld, where the publication tested how 3G and 4G performed in 13of the biggest US cities.

The initial results were releasedearlier with T-Mobile grabbing the 3G crown and for 4G it was a closerace between AT&T and Verizon, but the latter has more coveragewhich gives it an edge.

But there were some very importantfluctuations. T-Mobile might have won the 3G race, but it came behindAT&T in 2 of the 13 cities – Dallas and Chicago, so if you'rethere you'd be better off with AT&T 3G smartphone.

And for 4G the situation was even morestratified. AT&T's 4G blew the competition out of the water in Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, LosAngeles, and San Francisco. Verizon was the best 4G choice in Denver,New Orleans, San Jose, and Seattle.

So bottomline is that much of it alldepends on location. Even the big loser, Sprint's WiMAX had a solidperformance in some markets like Boston. So when picking yourcarrier, check out how each of the major US operators scored indifferent markets and make an informed decision for your region. 

It'sall at the source link below, along with a map, convenientlyvisualizing the results.

source: PCWorld, Speed test map



1. I_Slap_Fat_Kids

Posts: 40; Member since: May 04, 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."

11. sithman

Posts: 299; Member since: Apr 21, 2012

Lol Good one

16. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 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: 316; Member since: Sep 11, 2011

I live in PHX as well and Sprint is horrible.

2. Nickmfnjackson

Posts: 101; Member since: Jan 21, 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: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 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: 577; Member since: Dec 26, 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: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 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

10. shadowcell

Posts: 300; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

Until you step outside your state...

12. sithman

Posts: 299; Member since: Apr 21, 2012

Yes but it's the new standard

24. dmckay12

Posts: 243; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

I am from Shreveport and one of my friends had T-Mobile and her service was awful.

26. dmckay12

Posts: 243; Member since: Feb 25, 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: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 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: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I used to have the G2x and its speeds were just constantly 10mbps download 2mbps upload.

27. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

and that phone isnt even capable of the upper half of the network :)

18. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 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: Feb 14, 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

9. kshell1

Posts: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

In my opinion consistency is better.

13. Atrixboyyy

Posts: 607; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

Lmfao sprint...

15. Phullofphil

Posts: 1822; Member since: Feb 10, 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: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 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: 1143; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

GSM has a smaller coverage but its by far the superior tech.

22. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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: 324; Member since: Nov 16, 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: 27; Member since: Apr 25, 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: 237; Member since: Jun 17, 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: 40; Member since: May 04, 2012

I doubt your LTE connection is getting faster data speeds than my cable connection.

30. Forsaken77

Posts: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 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!

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.