Following a test PC World conducted two weeks ago on mobile broadband reliability, Wired.com conducted a considerably less scientific smartphone broadband test that found AT&T customers experienced the slowest average 3G network speeds while Verizon subscribers recorded the fastest speeds. The PC World test concluded that mobile broadband networks from Sprint and Verizon performed better than AT&T's in terms of reliability.
Wired.com said it conducted an "interactive 3G speed test" with about 15,000 smartphone users. The publication said 12,000 of those reported valid results. The study focused on 3G networks from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Verizon took the top spot with an average download speed of 1,940 kbps, as reported by 856 Verizon users. T-Mobile's average speed came in at 1,793 kbps as reported by 1,189 T-Mobile users. Sprint's average rate was 1,598 kbps as reported by 1,570 Sprint users. AT&T was last with an average 901 kbps reported by a whopping 8,153 AT&T smartphone users.
Wired.com conceded that the huge number of AT&T testers likely skewed the results and acknowledged that the test relied on the honesty of participants (customer perception is important too). Plus software and other smartphone factors can impact broadband speeds.
However, the magazine's tests do coincide with the PC World test. The publication said it used "industry-accepted testing technology techniques" to help smartphone users understand what type of performance they can get from the network.
PC World tested performance in 13 major cities with testing partner Navarum. It found that Verizon Wireless had an average download speed of 951 kbps across more than 20 testing locations in each of the 13 cities. In terms of reliability, the network was available at a reasonable and uninterrupted speed in about 90 percent of the tests.
Sprint's 3G network delivered on its promised speeds 90.5 percent of the tests in 13 cities. Average download speeds were 808 kbps. "The Sprint network performed especially well, both in speed and in reliability, in our test cities in the western part of the United States," said PC World.
Tests of AT&T's network showed average download speeds to be 812 kbps. PC World said reliability was a problem, with Navarum testers only able to make a connection at a reasonable, uninterrupted speed in 68 percent of their tests.
- see Wired.com
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