T-Mobile 3G and AT&T 4G take the speed crowns

T-Mobile 3G and AT&T 4G take the speed crowns
PCWorld has done its yearly testing of US wireless carriers to find out which company provides the fastest service across the country and T-Mobile and AT&T took the top honors this year in 3G and 4G speed respectively. The tests were done in 13 different cities from 10 locations in each city. The only variation was that AT&T's 4G was only tested in 11 cities, because there was no LTE coverage in Denver or Seattle yet, and Sprint was only tested in 12 cities because there's no WiMAX in New Orleans. 

So, on the 4G side of the board, it was a battle between AT&T and Verizon's LTE networks against T-Mobile's HSPA+ and Sprint's WiMAX service. Sprint came in dead last, putting up 4G numbers that were actually slower on average than T-Mobile's 3G service. T-Mobile was respectable with HSPA+ speeds of 5.5Mbps down and 1.3Mbps up. But, ultimately AT&T's LTE took top honors with 9.12Mbps down across its 11 cities, compared to Verizon's 7.35Mbps average in 13 cities. Verizon did beat out AT&T in upload speed though, with 5.86Mbps compared to AT&T's 4.91Mbps. 

The 3G tests were all T-Mobile though with an average of 3.84Mbps down and 1.44Mbps up. AT&T is the only carrier that deserves any mention here with 2.62Mbps down, both Sprint and Verizon were just embarrassingly slow. On the whole though, the numbers do say that 3G speeds are faster than last year almost across the board, only Sprint's speeds went down compared to last year. 

source: PCWorld



1. crysiswarmonger

Posts: 82; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

Sprint sucks.

31. eaxvac

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 15, 2012

you'll see sprint throttling soon, to get their speed back

38. crysiswarmonger

Posts: 82; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

Soon? They have never had 4g anywhere close to me. 3g has always been slow. Unlimited data at a trickle....

41. ayephoner

Posts: 858; Member since: Jun 09, 2009

their investment in wimax was quite simply a mistake. now they are going to be very behind the curve rolling out LTE.

53. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 969; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Sprint does suck. Had them for almost 2 years before ditching them. As for the 2mbps speed difference, on average, that difference is hardly noticeable on a cell phone. We're still at the mercy of how fast, efficient, and smooth our phones process the data that's being downloaded. I doubt you'd see the difference in speed. On a PC with MBB, maybe, but only on larger download sizes where the overall DL time is important. With such a negligible difference, I think it's more important to look at overall coverage, reliability of service, devices offered, and the quality of customer service before deciding which carrier has the highest value per dollar.

2. Cwebb

Posts: 501; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Way to suck up the joint Sprint. And when I change the PRL so I use Verizon towers, you tell me to stop. Either raise your speeds or allow me to roam as I please.

22. ojdidit84

Posts: 462; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

Exactly why I left Sprint and went to Verzon. Not to mention the fact that I live in the 8th largest city in the US and still didn't have WiMax 2 years after the rollout. I couldn't take it any longer. Now I have LTE speed outside of my house AND the 3g I was hacking my phone to use anyway... Now to wait and see if VZW passes on the SGSIII

28. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

yeah and guess what they will not expand their coverage with WiMax anymore since they are moving away from it and going to LTE, so yeah no more WiMax, wel will see whats going to be the coverage for LTE on thier network.

46. dla0052

Posts: 9; Member since: Jan 31, 2012

I couldn't agree with you more! I am just 3 months away from being able to leave Sprint. Unlimited data is useless when 3G speeds are so slow!

3. D_Tech-tive

Posts: 104; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

Big Red needs to step it up else wheres. I still happy with my 4G with my speeds which are well above average.

15. solidsnakeduds013

Posts: 221; Member since: Oct 20, 2010


17. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

Big red uses CDMA so of course 3g is slower but more reliable and widespread. And verizon's 4g network has a lot more people using it so it would be slower then at&t but on the other hand it is also available in a lot more areas.

39. cnwwyo

Posts: 126; Member since: May 26, 2011

Absolutely correct, where i work there are so many people on verizon because thats the only carrier that works "good" in that area, and the system is just bogged down.

4. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Tmobile has the most users on its 4g bandwith, since HSPA+ shares with 3g devices. ATT has by far the least amount of people on its LTE network. Yea, sprint kinda stunk up that one big time. The question remains, are you willing to pay an extra 80 per month for maybe 2mb/s faster internet? 60 on tmobile, or 140 on att/vzw. hmm. And only Tmobile and VZW had 4g in every city they tested. Tmobile still has the largest 4g network coverage though. Kinda funny eh?

6. MichaelHeller

Posts: 2734; Member since: May 26, 2011

The amount of users on AT&T's LTE network has no bearing on the numbers. LTE is designed to not have slowdown even with high usage. AT&T is just sticking with its same plan as 3G, it may not have the coverage of Verizon, but it'll have the speed.

19. biophone

Posts: 1994; Member since: Jun 15, 2011

The difference in speeds is so marginal you can't even tell. Not to mention the coverage is so scarce that if you do have at&t's lte in your area that is more of a surprise then something expected.

23. gaby1451

Posts: 119; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Not sure about that Michael, Verizon's speeds may be slowing down due to the increased number of users on it's 4G network as well as the time of day they access it. Even phoneArena has suggested that LTE can slow down depending on those factors as stated in its March 2011 article titled "HTC ThunderBolt 4G LTE data speed tests" "... the ThunderBolt got download speeds between 5-7 Mbps, though occasionally throughout the day we would see download speeds up to 10-12 Mbps. So it does appear the time of day may matter, as well as how many people are connected in your area using the network" (par 2). Also, AT&T throttles grandfathered users with an unlimited data plan after they have reached 5GB of usage. So in a way, LTE can slow down with high usage. http://www.phonearena.com/news/HTC-ThunderBolt-4G-LTE-data-speed-tests_id17499

24. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

no, i believe the traffic definitely is a factor. i've observed the numbers ever since the Charge came out and they have gradually gotten lower over time. there's no reason AT&T's network should be any faster. it's the same thing.

33. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

no signal is immune to traffic and bandwith issues, michael. you should know that. VZW's traffic is most definitely slowing down a bit as its base gains users. the other point about Tmobile's traffic remains quite true. Its just about keeping up with VZW, but with a ton more traffic on the HSPA+ network. Makes ya wonder what it would be if it was as unused as ATT's LTE bandwith.

42. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

I agree. When I got my Thunderbolt I consistently saw 20-25 down and 10-15 up... now it's more around 10-15 down and 8-10 up. Still living in the same apartment so I haven't changed location.

9. omarc26

Posts: 360; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Yes im willing to pay 80-140 bucks more on at&t or verizon i dont care because i have the money as long as i get better reception i had t-mobile before some of there newest phones galaxy s2, sensation etc .. i couldnt get a signal at all in many highrise buildings in downtown LA i was stuck on sos yes i know t-mobile offers UMA but buildings in LA have no wifi so i was screwed were as at&t and verizon ALWAYS came tru in the same building no need for wifi calling with them . And since im in dwtwn LA everyday taking express elevators i need a company that works and thats at&t or verizon . Idont care about speed i think i told u that before yes we have argued on here before about that me and u it seems all u care about is speed were as i care about reception but if u need to know im getting waay faster speeds on verizon LTE and at&t LTE than what my friends are getting on t-mobile hspa+ in the 20-30 mbps range so have a nice day and dont bother replying cuz most likely i wont be writting back cuz i have stuff to do :P

14. cellphonator

Posts: 298; Member since: Oct 29, 2011

I'm sorry for your situation in those buildings, I'm enjoying T-Mobile price, speed and reception like a mad man. Location location!

54. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

its all about where you live. Im about getting the most value for my money. unlike some of the people on these boards, i live in the real world where throwing my money away isnt a good thing. there is no such thing as a perfect carrier. its all about where you live. Where I live, Tmobile gets a strong signal almost everywhere, including in the heart of giant hospitals where i do clinicals. I have an issue in one building where I go to school, but that is a small price to pay for service at nearly half cost. like i said on another post, i recommended VZW to a friend this morning. His needs were much different. VZW gets signal like 15-20+ miles off shore (not kidding) and he fishes competitively while also having to drive to GA, so that was his best option.

10. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Remix you claim HSPA+ speeds of double digits and higher. Yet another study shows you're wrong. LTE is much faster. You're also lying about T Mobile having the largest 4G coverage.

36. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Taco, HSPA+ where I live has given users 15.0 mbps download speeds....

45. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Burst speeds mean nothing. I get burst speeds of 35-40 Mbps on VZW. Remix tried to tell us all the average speed on T Mo is double digits. Clearly a lie.

55. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

you get speeds like that on your iphone?? thats amazing taco. how did you get such a super fast iphone? on your ipad?? woow! i didnt know your ipad2 was LTE enabled! yea, i think u just got called on your BS.

59. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I have a galaxy tab and a VZW hotspot.

61. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

wow, you must be rich, because just the other day you said you had a ipad2 as well. BTW, even in the off chance that your telling the truth about your ipad2, tab, and hotspot, VZW as with probably all the companies allows their individual hotspot/mobile web devices to get a little faster on the internet. They do that because there is a huge % of those clients that are business clients. Run a hotspot next to a phone with the same carrier and data type (LTE ect) and the hotspot will "almost" always beat it. So.. your telling me the biggest anti-android pro-inut on the site secretly uses a galaxy tab? your full of crap with this.. or your full of crap with the ipad2. or you really do live at home with your mommy and its her toys.

37. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

hmm.. if im lying then tmobile is lying, since they advertise that. if they were lying, VZW would have sued them by now or at least bashed them in commercials, dont ya think? They sure went after ATT's "3g network" with the force of an advertising hurricane.

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