Survey: Which Network Is Best?

Posted on Apr 18 2012 - 1:05pm by Editorial Staff

PCWorld has took snapshot measurements of wireless service in 13 cities–Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.–across the US to get a real-time view of how the 3G-to-4G transition is progressing, and of which companies are currently delivering on the promised faster speeds. The good news is that every carrier is offering faster speeds than last year, but which is the fastest?

Here are the major findings of study:

  • AT&T’s new LTE network turned in the fastest download speeds of any 4G service. Its 3G service was very competitive, too–and those two results help make a strong case for AT&T dual-mode 3G/4G phones.
  • T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21 service won in the 3G bracket of our study, and the company’s high-end HSPA+ 42 service competed reasonably well with other providers’ 4G service. In addition, T-Mobile’s service plans are more flexible and its prices are lower than those offered by competing carriers.
  • Verizon makes 4G services available in many more locations than other providers do, and its 4G upload speeds are top-of-the-line, but its 4G download speeds don’t match AT&T’s. And Verizon’s 3G speeds are not improving much, especially when compared to the competition.
  • Sprint was consistently a laggard in our wireless speed derby. The company seems to have virtually stopped developing its existing 3G and 4G networks while looking for a way to make the transition from its outdated WiMax 4G technology to LTE.
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