AT&T Crowned ‘Fastest Mobile Network’

by Matt Klassen on June 18, 2013

Under a constant barrage of commercials touting various mobile carriers as the fastest, the most powerful, having the widest coverage and the like, it can be difficult to determine fact from, well, marketing fiction. In fact, as we’ve written here many times before, mobile marketing tends to focus solely on what a particular company does best (and who could blame them?), selling that one strength as the only facet users need to consider when choosing a network.

Amidst these confusing marketing campaigns the true mobile puzzle can be hard to piece together, and, therefore, in an effort to shed some light on some of these claims, popular tech news outlet PC Magazine hit the road, conducting real time tests on all major American networks in various spots across the country, tabulating the results to find out who truly is America’s best network.

The result: PCMag found that AT&T is America’s fastest LTE network on average, posting average download speeds of 16.7 megabits per second and average upload speeds exceeding 7.4 megabits per second. But as I mentioned, speed is only part of the story, which is why AT&T may not be America’s best network.

Although its Verizon and AT&T that make up the America’s wireless duopoly, it was T-Mobile’s LTE network that scored second on the speed trials, posting 12Mbps download speeds and 7Mbps upload speeds. Verizon, for its part, was right behind in third, with 11.9Mbps download speeds and 6.3Mbps upload speeds. The conclusion from the PCMag survey, “If you’re looking for a fast mobile broadband experience in major and medium-sized cities, AT&T is the best nationwide 4G choice.”

There’s no question that in this category T-Mobile was the biggest surprise, as the nation’s fourth largest provider has shown it’s ready to compete on the national LTE stage. “T-Mobile’s new LTE network looked great in the few cities where we could find it,” PCMag explains, “and it has the best backup in T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network.”

Sprint, for its part, took fourth place in the speed trials, but showed it was on the rise, having effectively transitioned away from its doomed WiMax experiment.

While AT&T will no doubt trumpet these results to the world, boasting the nation’s fastest network to any and all who will listen, network reliability and, of course, network coverage are equal players in this mobile triumvirate. As I mentioned, boasting the fastest download and uploads speeds doesn’t really matter to users if they don’t have reliable access to the network in the first place.

To that end, as part of PCMag’s survey the firm conducted studies in a variety of locations, including rural and suburban areas where, no surprise here, Verizon was king, no doubt the reason Big Red boasts the nation’s largest subscriber base.

In the end, as the PCMag study concludes, if you happen to live in a major and medium-sized metropolitan area, AT&T is the clear choice, as not only does it have reliable coverage, it is clearly the fastest LTE network on the block. If you’re like most of us, however, and live outside the city, AT&T still plays second fiddle to Verizon, who seems to have found the ideal blend of speed, coverage, and reliability.

Therefore, while studies like this do wonders for the ballooning egos of our national mobile carriers, you have to keep reading past the banner headline to really get an accurate picture of the mobile landscape, one where AT&T is fast for the few, while Verizon remains reliable for the many.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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