New test shows AT&T wireless broadband speeds run the gamut across the U.S.

Research and consulting firm ARCchart said it conducted a comprehensive study of mobile broadband network performance of UMTS operators globally, concluding that AT&T Mobility is delivering among the worst 3G data speeds in some of its markets.

It said that AT&T was achieving an average downloads speed of 1,037 kbps across the country, but there were significant variations in speeds in different markets. In Indianapolis, AT&T averages a very respectable 1,300 kbps and its network performance in Austin, Texas, is not far behind. However, Philadelphia and New York City are the metropolitan areas experiencing AT&T's poorest quality of broadband coverage, both averaging less than 800 kbps.

ARCchart collected data speed and latency measurements for 268 wireless operators in 103 different countries worldwide using a smartphone software application available on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices. The firm said that this approach has allowed ARCchart to collect more than 2 million individual test readings from tens of thousands of users who have conducted numerous tests for virtually every mobile carrier in virtually every country in the world. In the US, a total of 162,000 test readings were collected for the two national UMTS carriers, AT&T and T-Mobile.

"The U.S. is a large and diverse geography so it's unsurprising to see AT&T managing varying levels of mobile broadband service," noted Matt Lewis, research director with ARCchart. "The carrier is delivering relatively good data speeds in several major cities, but our results make the assumption that these networks are completely reliable. Owing to the nature of our research methodology, a network cannot be tested if no data connection is present or if the connection is dropped midway through the speed test - two issues which are the source of common complaints levied by AT&T customers."

To place AT&T's performance in a global context, the study shows that neighboring Rogers Wireless in Canada is delivering an average throughput of 1,330 kbps to its customers, while SFR in France and Japan's NTT DoCoMo both average about 1,500 kbps. The study's best performing carrier is T-Mobile Hungary, at just over 1,600 kbps, meaning that 3G in Budapest is more than twice as fast as in New York.

The results ARCchart highlighted are not unlike other similar tests of AT&T's network. In June, PC World tested the broadband speeds of the nation's top operators, concluding that AT&T's network showed average download speeds to be 812 kbps.

During last week's CTIA IT & Entertainment show last week, AT&T's CTO John Donovan defended the nation's No. 2 carrier against a growing range of critics picking at AT&T's network capacity constraints and potentially laggard upgrade plans.

"AT&T understands the wireless data customer better than any other," Donovan said, adding that the carrier is "working incredibly hard to make [the customer experience] a great one."

For more:
- check out ARCchart

Related articles:
Putting 3G networks to the test
Another test puts AT&T last in mobile broadband performance

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