Although there are a range of factors that can be used to compare wireless carriers, one of the more popular ones is speed. Is AT&T's LTE service faster than Verizon's? What about 3G service?
PCWorld has released the results of a study comparing the download and upload speeds for various cellular wireless technologies as offered by the top four U.S. carriers.
According to this study, which was conducted in over a dozen major cities, AT&T's 4G LTE service is faster than Verizon's when downloading data, although Big Red comes out ahead in uploading.
T-Mobile's 4G HSPA+ 42 service provides speeds comparable to LTE. Sprint's 4G WiMAX service, on the other hand is consistently slower than LTE, which is why this carrier is in the process of switching to the rival standard.
Although speedy 4G connections are becoming increasingly common, a majority of phone users still have some form of 3G. That's expected to change in the coming years, and those who truly care about the wireless transfer speeds should consider upgrading at their next opportunity.
The PCWorld study pointed out that T-Mobile's HSPA+ 21 service (which many others consider a 4G standard) is faster than the 3G service offered by this carrier's rivals.
AT&T was a close second, as it also offers HSPA+. These were faster than either Verizon's or Sprint's older 3G EV-DO services.
Winners and Losers
As PCWorld Senior Editor Mark Sullivan, who designed and managed his company's study, said “By offering data speeds that are very competitive with AT&T and Verizon along with its affordable data plans, T-Mobile is proving why its proposed acquisition by AT&T last year would have been bad news for US consumers.”
Sullivan also said, "The other (rather sobering) surprise in this year’s data is Sprint’s poor performance, both in 3G and 4G service. The carrier’s speeds suggest that both the Sprint CDMA and WiMAX networks have seen very little investment and upgrade over the past year." Apparently the company is putting much of its focus on the switch from WiMAX to LTE.
As mentioned earlier, the speed of a Wireless Network is important, but it's only one criteria to be taken into account when comparing wireless networks. For example, even though AT&T's 4G LTE network is faster than Verizon's when downloading, Verizon's 4G service is available in a vastly wider area.
Another factor is price. The smaller carriers Sprint and T-Mobile offer wireless service for lower prices than their larger rivals.
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