February 23, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
AT&T doesn’t have a reputation for a reliable network in many markets, but Ma Bell’s wireless arm is the highest rated network in a recent comparison by PC World. Following up on their previous test that found AT&T lagged behind Verizon and Sprint, PC World found that AT&T now has download speeds 67 percent faster than their rivals.
It’s important to recognize that carrier strengths should be judged on a city-by-city basis; T-Mobile may work great in Atlanta and be worst in Honolulu. However, AT&T’s rapid improvement over the past 8 months shows that company is finally serious about being competitive with hard-hitting Verizon, which has been quick to remind everyone how much resources they have devoted to improving their network.
- AT&T spent millions to improve their 3G coverage in the markets that PC World tested. In New York City and San Francisco, two places that have notoriously bad coverage, download speeds increased 300% and 40% respectively. They also improved an average reliability test from 68 percent to 94 percent.
- PC World suggests that Verizon is performing well but has a drop in network reliability because of new smartphones like the Droid. Ironic since AT&T was criticized so much for not keeping up with the iPhone network demands.
- T-Mobile‘s 3G download speeds were competitive with Sprint and Verizon in most cities, even reaching 4G speed levels in New York.
- All networks have plans to upgrade to HSPA+ or LTE to achieve 4G speeds in 2010 or 2011. Current technology of Sprint/Verizon’s CDMA networks makes it difficult for them to match AT&T’s HSPA speeds in Baltimore, Boston, and New York.
- In a carrier/marquee phone comparison, the Verizon/Droid combo ranked as the least reliable phone at 76%; The T-Mobile/G1 was best at 93% and Sprint/Hero was 92%.
- Sprint is America’s most reliable 3G network based on PC World’s tests, but it isn’t as fast. Sprint hasn’t upgraded its network to be as fast in most markets as it is in others.
- T-Mobile upload speeds are pretty bad in comparison to other carriers. They rank last in 11 of 13 cities tested. T-Mobile doubled its 3G reach from 100 million people to 200 million.