AT&T ranked No.1 in PCWorld's 3G network test

It may come as a surprise, but AT&T ranks number one in PCWorld's latest 13-city 3G network test. The wireless provider has undergone scrutiny for lack of coverage and poor network performance. But according to AT&T, the company has added hundreds of new cell towers and a better wireless spectrum.

According to PCWorld, the following 13 test cities were used:  Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle. Although locations vary greatly in network coverage, PCWorld tried to select cities representative of the majority.

More than 51,000 separate tests spanning 850 square miles were performed by PCWorld and Novarum Inc. Network reliability, download speeds, and upload speeds on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon were calculated from 20 locations in each city during December and January. Both laptops and smartphones were used to connect to the 3G networks. The margin of error is plus or minus five percent.

Last spring, AT&T's average download speeds of 812 kbps scored the lowest in PCWorld’s 3G test. This time around, AT&T's download speeds of 1410 kbps measured 72 percent better and 67 percent faster on average than Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, according to the test. Sprint's average speeds remained nearly the same as last spring's test, while Verizon's speeds decreased by 8 percent on average. AT&T also ranked number one in upload speeds with Verizon coming in a distant second.

As AT&T's subscriber count continues to grow (from 77 million to 85 million customers during 2009), so must the network. Forty percent of AT&T's subscribers use smartphones, and according to AT&T spokesperson Jenny Bridges, "advanced smartphones like the iPhone are driving up to 10 times the amount of usage of other devices on average."

For full results, visit PCWorld.

PC World 3G network test

Image courtesy of PCWorld

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