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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

PCWorld reports on the results of its recent 13-city performance tests of wireless carriers in the United States, and Apple's iPhone partner AT&T came out well ahead of the pack in both upload and download speeds while also faring well in reliability.
After registering the lowest average download speeds in our 3G performance tests last spring, AT&T's network turned in download speeds that were 84 percent better than the numbers from eight months ago; in our latest tests, AT&T's download speeds were 67 percent faster on average than those of the other three largest U.S. wireless providers--Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
In looking specifically at the iPhone, AT&T again fared well compared to flagship handsets on other carriers, offering significantly higher download and upload speeds with 91% reliability, only marginally lower than the G1 on T-Mobile and the HTC Hero on Sprint.


AT&T's efforts to address performance issues in the New York City and San Francisco markets also appear to be paying off, with PCWorld's testing revealing average download speeds tripling over a previous survey in New York City and jumping 40% in San Francisco.

Overall reliability also improved for AT&T, with successful connections achieved on 94% of attempts, up from only 68% on the previous survey and on par with results for Sprint and ahead of T-Mobile and Verizon on an overall basis. PCWorld's testing did, however, reveal significant reliability weaknesses in San Francisco, with only 55% of connections being successful in its smartphone testing.

Complete data and analysis is available in the article, which covers results from twenty locations in each of thirteen cities: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Article Link: AT&T Tops 3G Wireless Performance Study


macrumors 6502a
Jan 22, 2008
St. Louis, MO.
Finally some truth about the 3G networks. ATT Customer Service is still bad, but happy to see them at the top of the pack when it comes to speed.


macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
My personal experience with the iPhone on AT&T and the Droid on Verizon in the Los Angeles area is not reflected in this chart. The Droid on the Verizon network was very noticeably faster that the iPhone on AT&T 3G.

Guess it just depends on where you are...


macrumors 601
Aug 19, 2003
Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut … according to all the tech pundits that live in New York and San Francisco — Verizon is the best?!?!


Like any service, it only matters what the service is like in your specific location.


macrumors 68040
May 28, 2008
Yeah those speeds are about right:


However there are times I am below 500k in download speed and have even gotten speeds that were 50k download and upload was 0k while on 3G. Weird, but expected. This is AT&T we're talking about right?


macrumors regular
Jun 17, 2009
Pacific Northwest

I would agree service with AT&T in Seattle is pretty good.
No complaints here overall.


macrumors regular
Jan 14, 2010
But... but... Verizon has that map that has nearly the entire US painted red! They therefore must be better! :rolleyes:


macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
I’m surprised AT&T hasn’t touted these improvements in ads. (At least I haven’t seen them do so.)

My medium-sized city never seemed to have a problem EXCEPT in a few very small holes where coverage was just plain missing. Like 10-foot holes... one right by my friend’s house and one right by the Apple Store :eek:


macrumors newbie
Jun 18, 2009

regardless of the numbers, i still feel AT&T has a long way to go to delivering a reliable wireless experience to users. I'm in New York every week and several times during the day I can't access the 3G network for no apparent reason. I hope that AT&T doesn't look at surveys like this and use them as an excuse to drag their feet with improvements.

To me, this tells me that AT&T is basically the skinniest kid at the beginning of fat camp.


macrumors regular
Dec 31, 2004
New York, NY
Yes, I think we all know that if you find a spot with 100% AT&T, you will get the absolute fastest speeds. No question.

The problem is that AT&T's signals dont deal with urban landscapes very well... a few tall buildings (or a few thousand tall buildings) drown out AT&T's signals.

In midtown NYC, finding a signal at ALL is no easy feat, so download speeds are a moot point. Never mind being INSIDE an aforementioned tall building. I would sacrifice speed just to have a signal that could do crazy things like bounce off buildings or go through a window. Maybe my expectations are too high. Regardless, I have Blackberry Verizon service inside my office, and zero AT&T iPhone service.


macrumors newbie
Feb 23, 2010
Data not the problem

The data speed was never the problem, in New York, it was always dropping the voice calls. And that hasn't improved much. I can download and upload all day, but I can barely make a call!


macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2007
I don't think the issue ever was about which network is faster, I think the main issue brought up by Verizon was about coverage.

Being on AT&T (towers by Comporium Communications... We finally got 3G last year!) now, however, I'm looking forward to switching back to Sprint after my AT&T contract ends.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 20, 2005
North East, MD, USA
If you don't have coverage, it just makes them the worlds largest midget.

Same with verizon, go somewhere they don't have coverage and you are out of luck.

get the best for where you are, whether it's ATT or Verizon or Tmobile. Doesn't Tmobile have wimax in places? Why not on the chart?


macrumors 6502
Nov 24, 2009
NEW Jersey / USA
I’m surprised AT&T hasn’t touted these improvements in ads. (At least I haven’t seen them do so.)

No, they just conducted the study and released the results! :p

Actually, I've been happy overall with ATT's data service, though the voice service leaves a lot to be desired.
But, if I had to choose between the two, I'd go for faster and more reliable data.


macrumors 65816
Dec 27, 2006
I DID build that!


macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
Doesn't Tmobile have wimax in places? Why not on the chart?
Sprint = WiMax, and they don't have a WiMax-enabled smartphone yet (IIRC).

It appears Verizon's network is getting, downgraded?
Weird. Verizon finally gets some popular smartphones (Droid + Eris brought it a lot of new customers) and then runs some ads touting how big its 3G coverage is (bringing it even more customers), and now its 3G network is benchmarking slower? Whodathought that adding load to a network would slow it down?!


macrumors member
Jan 31, 2008
Anyone who's ever used IPhone in NYC knows that this study is a load of hogwash. I'm getting 20kbps right now in the middle of Wall St with my IPhone. Palm Pre on Sprint meanwhile is topping at 700kbps in the same location.
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