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Gizmodo Tests Nation's 3G Networks
Says Sprint came out on top...
by Karl Bode 04:14PM Wednesday Dec 17 2008
Gizmodo conducted what they're calling a "grueling" and "definitive" (they ran a few speed, pageload and file download tests at several locations in eight cities) analysis of the nation's 3G networks. According to the gadget blog, they tested Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint (sorry T-Mobile) networks using AT&T's Sierra USBConnect 881, Sprint's Sierra Wireless Compass 597 and Verizon Wireless's Novatel USB727. Sprint had the best downstream speeds overall, while AT&T came out tops in upstream speeds, dominating tests in six cities. Verizon beat AT&T in four cities, tied in one, and lost in three. Their tests broken down by city: Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco, and Seattle.

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wifi4milez
Big Russ, 1918 to 2008. Rest in Peace

join:2004-08-07
New York, NY

1 recommendation

They did more than "ran a few speed tests"

In all honesty this is a fairly in depth test of 3G networks, so I am not sure if any sarcasm is necessary in the reporting of the story. If you look at each of the tests, the tester(s) went to multiple locations within the cities, then tested multiple different devices. Sure, it wasnt a block by block analysis however I would say for a gadget blog they did a pretty good job.
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Nerdtalker
Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?
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join:2003-02-18
Tucson, AZ

1 recommendation

Re: They did more than "ran a few speed tests"

I think they did a pretty good job as well; it sure seems to match my impressions and my own testing around my local area.

It's amazing how marketing can sway so many people's opinions that Verizon is God's gift in terms of bandwidth and stability. Honestly, I find Sprint to be faster and reliable in most of the places I am.

YMMV, but whatever is best in your area is best. There isn't any end-all answer, still.
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FFH
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Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: They did more than "ran a few speed tests"

said by Nerdtalker:

It's amazing how marketing can sway so many people's opinions that Verizon is God's gift in terms of bandwidth and stability.
Verizon has always gotten great press and test results for their voice service. I was not aware of any great marketing hype about their data service being better than the others.
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Nerdtalker
Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?
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join:2003-02-18
Tucson, AZ

Re: They did more than "ran a few speed tests"

said by FFH:

Verizon has always gotten great press and test results for their voice service. I was not aware of any great marketing hype about their data service being better than the others.
I've added emphasis where necessary to highlight my point. Press doesn't always mean unbiased, objective, or that thorough. Testing conditions (even in the Gizmodo test) change so often, and local load and signal propagation is such a huge variable that, without running hundreds of tests, I don't consider any "testing" to be complete. Certainly nothing from the likes of the Walt-Mossberg type "press" if that's what you're alluding to.

This isn't about voice at all. Data is what we're talking about here. Regarding those tests, it'd seem that (at least this test) a number say otherwise. This nonsense that their network is "the fastest and most reliable 3G network in America" is laughable at best. Last Thursday the entire Verizon cellular network went down (completely, no signal) in my area. Completely. It makes me laugh every time I see their billboard.

If you're referring to those JD Power & Associates ratings, you'd honestly have to be kidding yourself or naive to believe them.
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funchords
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Re: They did more than "ran a few speed tests"

said by Nerdtalker:

If you're referring to those JD Power & Associates ratings, you'd honestly have to be kidding yourself or naive to believe them.
I believe them for exactly what they are -- consumer impressions. Verizon has been building a marketing impression of quality, and that impression is showing through because it does not offend the sensibilities of those responding to the surveys. Customers who think that the network is likely good are apt to blame issues on other factors (like slow servers).

Sprint's largely black-and-white commercials with the scary-looking CEO extolling the values of unlimited amounts of what customers want (while throwing on a 5 GB cap) make them look cheap and defensive. Consumers who think that Sprint is on the ropes are likely to blame issues on a network in decline.

I have no data for any of that, but it seems to follow...
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itguy05

join:2005-06-17
Carlisle, PA

1 recommendation

said by FFH:

said by Nerdtalker:

It's amazing how marketing can sway so many people's opinions that Verizon is God's gift in terms of bandwidth and stability.
Verizon has always gotten great press and test results for their voice service. I was not aware of any great marketing hype about their data service being better than the others.
As one who uses their services and has coworkers on Verizon...... Their voice service is much overhyped. It's a little worse than AT&T in the places I go to. Voice quality is a mixed bag and often times it's horrible.

I'd pick AT&T any day over Verizon.

Verizon has great brainwashing....err, marketing.

funchords
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said by FFH:

Verizon has always gotten great press and test results for their voice service. I was not aware of any great marketing hype about their data service being better than the others.
Verizon's crowd of geeks that follow me around all day sure are annoying, though...
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en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

What... no Los Angeles ?

AT&T would probably be last here anyways
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Fox McCloud
Crazy like a fox.

join:2006-07-23

pity...

That Sprint doesn't have the ToS to top them all, as well.

Well, they have the most lenient, in terms of overage charges, but...it's a shame they're still not unlimited.

Ahh well, their network, not mine.

jchambers28

join:2007-05-12
Alma, AR

3G

3G service sucks. As soon as 3G hits 10MBPS and raises their monthly caps I will buy it. Until then I will keep my cable modem service.
pabster

join:2001-12-09
Waterloo, IA

So AT&T isn't half as bad as some claim...

As I've been saying for some time.

It's amazing how a small but vocal group can be so influential.

Got to hand it to Verizon, they market the hell out of their service. And it is pretty darn good, but not "the best" depending on where you are located.

funchords
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Pwned in Portland

Verizon got whipped here in my town, although I had terrible luck with AT&T's data service when I tried it. I would go hours without being able to find a 3G signal.

swintec
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Alfred, ME
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Finally Sprint!

Finally Sprint comes out on top in SOMETHING. Sprint was the only one around here with 3G service for awhile until AT&T launched theirs a coupe of weeks ago.
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tubbynet
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Chandler, AZ
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results match what i have seen in most of arizona...

i've always had good luck with verizon's phone service. the price is usually the first to go up, and they sell crippled handsets, but i've had to say that it is probably the most "reliable" and "consistent" phone service in the majority of arizona. i have had a verizon personal line for nearly 5 years and have never had a major issue.

i used to have a sprint moto q9 that worked well in the major metro areas, but lacked major 3g coverage and wouldn't even have service for a good chunk of the state. disadvantages of the q aside, i wasn't impressed with sprint's voice network or coverage; calls were echo-y and sounded like they were underwater.
i have since switched work carriers from sprint to att. i now have a blackjack ii and have been impressed with att's quality. all of the issues i had with voice quality have been alleviated and att's partnership with local gsm providers has extended their footprint rather well. i still find dead spots, especially in many buildings (even in the phoenix metro area) but its a big step up from sprint.

now - this disgression was not totally useless. i have seen that 3g coverage is most prevalent with verizon (in most of my travels around az), however i have a sprint mobile broadband card for data connectivity (through work). i am always impressed with the speeds and latency. i can work over an rdp session or vpn tunnel with little issue or lag. i have been very happy (when within sprint's coverage area). i have not used att's 3g network cards, but would rate their coverage between sprint and verizon (from looking at my phone's indicator).

i would say that the tests represent a good sampling of tests and mimic my results more often than not. at least its good to know i'm not delirious

q.
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fitbryan

join:2005-07-26
Santa Monica, CA

Re: results match what i have seen in most of arizona...

was surprised. in both Portland and Socal Ive found VZW to work well just about everywhere consistently. the bandwidth is pretty secondary to actually having functional signal.
EPS4

join:2008-02-13
Hingham, MA

But is it really good for Sprint?

The thing about 3G is, the more customers you have on a network, the worse network performance is going to be. Now, of course, you can't use that as the sole reason here- Sprint also likely has less customers per tower because they make heavier use of the PCS band than at&t or VZW. Still, it makes one wonder... the funny thing is if everyone or a very large proportion of wireless customers switched to Sprint based on this result, Sprint's performance would likely degrade and VZW and at&t would do better.

Darkflight
Stitch 626 LTE

join:2001-03-03
Rowland Heights, CA

Re: But is it really good for Sprint?

You are assuming that they do not upgrade or make changes to the network to accommodate such an increase in usuage... If things were static, that might be true, but realistically speaking I'm sure they would try and maintain if not improve the data path until Wimax is thrown out everywhere...

bobjohnson
Premium
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Orlando, FL
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Re: But is it really good for Sprint?

We just did our own test here in Cocoa, FL this morning all with the same signal and it is kinda surprising to me...

Sprint - 2.1m/291

ATT - 1.2m/314

Verizon - 879/135
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openupshop

join:2000-11-25
Chandler, AZ

The Only Thing Sprint Tops....

The only thing Sprint can top is the Churn rate of customers and their debt. Sprint is for people with credit problems and always will be. They are on the road to Bankruptcy.

huntml

join:2002-01-23
Mullica Hill, NJ

Test incomplete.

The tested downlink and uplink speed, but didn't do anything to test QoS, connection stability, persistent data transmission rates, etc.

If they had, I think ATTM would have come out even worse. My experience with them here in PHL is that while they are capable of good speeds, their connections are not anywhere near as stable as Sprint's.

Their network seems to be oversold and/or bachaul-starved. When I stream or try to download large files like podcasts, I get frequent slowdowns and disconnections.

Sprint, OTOH, is rock-solid.
bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Test incomplete.

I have an AT&T 3G card for work...

I signed up for Sprint 3G in 2007 for myself...

Sprint is always solid... the only times I lose the connection are when traveling on the commuter train through tunnels... I had the card plugged into a router with (4) users continuously operating from Boston to Buffalo NY w/o so much as a hiccup (external antenna used) for any of them. I once used it to stream a Boston college radio station for my entire drive up to Rutland, VT--tho I did lose the connection frequently for 5-10 mins at a time in the mountainous areas.

AT&T not so much, I frequently can't get a signal when moving or maintain a connection... to the point that I don't even usually carry the card, I just use my personal Sprint card... the question is what will I do in April '09 when my Sprint contract is up :-/
bemis

join:2008-07-18
Reading, MA

Re: Test incomplete.

I also lent the Sprint card to a friend who used it nearly continuously from Boston to Florida on the train... he said that it never failed to get and keep a signal the entire way down...

geeknik

join:2000-04-30
Luther, OK

That's hardly a test..

They tested Sprint, Verizon and AT&T. Those are hardly the only 3G carriers in the nation. This "test" is a joke.