Verizon vs. Sprint vs. AT&T

PC World logoSprint claims to have “America’s most reliable 3G network. “Verizon says it has”America’s Largest, Most Reliable Wireless Network. “AT&T says he has”the fastest 3G network in the country. “With wireless, in other words, everyone wins, if you ask the operators themselves.

That’s why I admire what Mark Sullivan and my other friends at PC World have done: compare the three media for download speed, upload speed and reliability in thirteen cities. PCW conducted this ambitious real-world experiment in partnership with Novarum, using Ixia’s IxChariot tool. As Mark says in his story, the results are just a glimpse of how the networks worked on any given day, in particular locations in specific cities visited by PCW and Novarum. But they are still interesting. And they tend to line up with some of the anecdotal impressions people have about the three carriers:

–The performance varied a parcel from town to town.

–Of the 13 cities, Verizon had the highest reliability rating of seven and Sprint the highest of six. AT&T did not have the highest reliability score in any city and was often far behind its two competitors.

–Verizon achieved the highest download score in seven cities; The sprint had the highest score of four; AT&T in two.

–AT&T had the highest download score in ten cities; The sprint was the highest of two; Verizon in one.

The most notable result is AT & T’s lackluster download score. AT&T told PCW it is maintaining its claim to be the fastest 3G provider in the country, based on the results of two independent companies and tests involving a million miles of road and a million data sessions. I do not dispute his position. But the PCW experience is a useful reminder that claims about “America” or “the nation” may or may not reflect what you get in your own hometown. And that might help explain why AT&T is the only one of the Big Three to never mention reliability or reliability in its advertisements.

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