AT&T 3G/4G network congestion..

Quad 2.5 G5 =)

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 29, 2009
319
0
I am curious about one aspect of AT&T's network, and I'd like to know if I'm not the only one affected by this, but I noticed it just a few days ago. (In December, went from having a GoPhone plan on AT&T, and was using an iPhone 4 on it, to going to a contract plan on AT&T with a new iPhone 4S.)

In the city I live in, (Albuquerque, New Mexico), I usually get speeds anywhere from 4 Mbps down to 7.5 down, and anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 uploads, depending on where I am in the city, but generally on the higher end of the scale, unless I'm at a place with a ton of people. Recently, I went on a vacation, and was rather surprised when I would do speedtests in the places that I had layovers in, or the actual city itself, when possible. In all of the cities I was in, I couldn't get much more than 3-4 for downloads, and 1-1.5 uploads.

Meanwhile, at home, in a smaller city than those mentioned above, I'm getting consistently higher speeds. I suspected it was because more people in Albuquerque are on Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, leading me to believe that it's leaving AT&T's network far less congested than it would normally be. For now, at least, here in the city, AT&T has the HSPA+ network, but not 4G LTE yet.

Are there any others out there who live in either smaller cities and getting relatively fast speeds due to less congestion, or anyone in bigger cities that are also getting consistently fast speeds compared to some areas around the country? I also would extend the question to anyone with phones not on AT&T, but also Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile. Are you seeing faster speeds than you normally would at home than in other cities, because your carrier of choice is not as widely used locally?

Also, one more question..as AT&T's 4G LTE network is built out, are people on iPhones and other "normal 3G/4G" phones going to see higher speeds as a result of the phones that support it using the LTE network instead of the HSPA+ network, taking the load off of it, or will it not make a difference one way or the other?
 

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,905
1,182
Washington DC
I travel to many US cities and I still find that the average AT&T download speed around the country is somewhere around 2 to 2.5 Mbps.

Yeah, I've seen 4 and 5 sometimes, but I still see 1.5 a lot too. I mostly travel to larger cities, though. Yes, I agree that some of the fastest speeds I've seen have been in some of the most remote areas.
 

JakeT85

macrumors regular
Jan 19, 2012
168
65
Verizon Network

I live in Bloomington, IL and have Verizon. At my house my average download is around 400-600 kbps; however, I travel to small towns a lot around us for work, with populations of around 1500-3000 people, and in those areas my download goes from 1.4-2.1 mbps. My home tower has around 3 subdivisions running off of it and an interstate, so I think that it is definitely congested. The smaller towns have way less phones using the bandwidth.

As far as your other question about LTE relieving the stress on the 3g network, we have LTE on Verizon here in Bloomington. I can tell you this, when they had the nationwide outages on 4g last month and all of those phones defaulted to 3g my speeds at home when from the usual 400-600 kbps down to 100 kbps or slower. This leads me to believe that as more cities are lit up and more people upgrade to 4g devices, the people on the 3g network will see their speeds start to rise again.
 

SurferMan

macrumors 65816
May 14, 2010
1,267
51
South FL
I live in South FL and get as high as 7-9 on hspa+, and usually around 3 sometimes lower at certain times when the network is congested but even then it's still much faster then what 3G here was before where I couldn't even crack 1 on an iPhone 4. Certain area's will have more issues, like NYC, not only do you have a ton of people crammed in a space but all the buildings and their interference, why AT&T sucks out there.
 

mpossoff

macrumors 68020
Mar 21, 2010
2,093
0
Philadelphia
I live in Philly and on AT&T. When i First got my 4S my speeds averaged 4-5 down in peak time. Now I'm averaging 1.5-2 down in peak time. Most likely alot of people got smartphones for the holidays. Since October I've seen AT&T network getting more congested.

I would like to note prior to February of 2011 AT&T wasn't good in Philly and I was ready to switch to Verizon. I'm glad I held off because AT&T has gotten ALOT better. If I can average 1.5-2 down in a VERY VERY populated area in the city at peak time I think that's good.

I'm not sure if I'm that confident in AT&T deployment of LTE though compared to Verizon.
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,627
342
Recently, I went on a vacation, and was rather surprised when I would do speedtests in the places that I had layovers in,
By layover, I'm assuming you were speed testing at the airport? You're pretty much guaranteed to get slow speeds at most airports. They're probably THE most congested locations on any cell network. You've got tons of people passing through, all checking up online via their smartphones, tethering, etc. So the fact that you got a slow speed at an airport was no surprise.
 

Quad 2.5 G5 =)

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 29, 2009
319
0
By layover, I'm assuming you were speed testing at the airport? You're pretty much guaranteed to get slow speeds at most airports. They're probably THE most congested locations on any cell network. You've got tons of people passing through, all checking up online via their smartphones, tethering, etc. So the fact that you got a slow speed at an airport was no surprise.
Not all of the layovers were at the airport, I did go into the city for overnight hotel rooms, etc. The two places I was able to do this was in Phoenix and the Bay Area (San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland). The tests still came out rather slow though.
 
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