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  • AT&T 3G Network Tops Verizon's; iPhone Blamed


    A new study shows that - despite recent negative publicity and consumer ratings to the contrary - AT&T's 3G network actually has better performance than Verizon's. The tests, carried out by start-up performance monitoring company Root Wireless, were done using non-Apple smartphones, though, and a New York Times writer quotes a consultant who claims there are problems with the iPhone's wireless interface.

    Root Wireless did testing of 3G network performance in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, DC, and its results were conclusive: AT&T's 3G downloads were faster than Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile's in each of those seven cities. Network World summarizes the results:

    Overall, AT&T's average 3G data speeds ranged from a low of 246Kbps in New York and a high of 428Kbps in Dallas. Verizon, meanwhile, had average 3G speeds ranging from 195Kbps in Seattle to 259Kbps in Chicago. The study also found that both carriers had comparably low rates of 3G connectivity failure, as each carrier's connection failure averaged between 1% and 3% for all seven cities. Sprint fared poorly in this particular category, as the carrier experienced data connection failures of 11% or higher in all seven markets.
    The company has an app in beta testing right now that will allow smartphone users to log their performance and send it to Root Wireless for analysis. Because the iPhone OS doesn't allow access to the core functionality that the app uses to assess network throughput, iPhone users will have to self-report the data somehow.

    A New York Times article, meanwhile, points a finger at the iPhone's hardware as a reason why performance on AT&T's network, especially in the major cities, is so bad. Roger Entner, senior vice president for telecommunications research at Nielsen, said the iPhone's "air interface," the hardware and firmware in the phone that handle the connection to the 3G network, had problems that "affect both voice and data." He said - echoing a recent study that claimed iPhone users will defend their phone against all reason -that "the iPhone has the nimbus of infallibility, ergo, it's AT&T's fault."

    AT&T has recently acknowledged that service in some major U.S. cities have been performing below standards and claim that they are making infrastructure improvements to deal with it. At no time has AT&T publicly blamed Apple for any issues. AT&T will never criticize Apple under any circumstances, Entner claimed.

    John Gruber, who writes the Daring Fireball blog, points out some deficiencies in the New York Times article.

    If itís the iPhoneís fault, not AT&Tís, why arenít iPhone users around the world having the same problems as those here in the U.S.? How come iPhone carriers in Europe turned on tethering support as soon as iPhone OS 3.0 was released, and AT&T still, seven months later, has not? Iíve brought this up before and readers have argued that the U.S. is a far bigger country than those in Europe, so of course U.S. carriers have a harder job than those in Europe. But that argument doesnít make sense to me. Itís not thereís one single AT&T cell tower providing service for the whole country. When it comes to providing coverage for a large city like New York or London or Paris, what difference does it make how big the rest of the country is?
    My own iPhone performs just fine in Boston, but horribly in San Francisco. It seemed a pretty obvious conclusion that San Francisco's network was overutilized. If Root Wireless's data are correct, though, and the networks in San Francisco and New York outperform Verizon's, it's within the realm of possibility that some issue with the iPhone's air interface could be cropping up only in congestion conditions. We should wait to see better data, but it'd be ironic if - when exclusivity ends in the United States - a bunch of users jump ship on AT&T only to find that the network was never the problem after all.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: AT&T 3G Network Tops Verizon's; iPhone Blamed started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 43 Comments
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bassoonist23 View Post
      Yet again another person failing to understand what this topic says. this isnt a ******* topic about coverage. its about the ability of the network. im not saying att has good or bad coverage. i personally dont have a problem anywhere near me but im sure theres proplems. the topic is that the network is faster. and on the side note a lot of iphone users problems might not be the network but the iphone itself (i cant say it is or isnt) but it makes sense. so stop ramping on a total off topic problem. you might like coverage better but there are some people who have no problems at all with their coverage and like speed.
      It's not off topic. Speed is great, IF you live in those cities they tested in. They are responding to coverage attacks with speed difference. They are continuing to ignore the coverage issue and focusing on something that hasn't been brought up in any competitors ads recently. I agree with AT&T, the speed is phenomenal. IF you live in a major metropolitan area. They need to focus their attention on the network as a whole rather than speak about how fast they are. I'll say it again, speed is great but I'd bet half their customer base could care less about how fast it is versus being able to use the damn network. SanFran has had a massive outage this past weekend, they released an app about reporting network problems and so on. Most people want that fixed. In the past two weeks I've had 10 voicemails that never got to my phone, and as many missed calls. No indication. Twice today I had two people call my phone (Verizon customers) and leave a voicemail and I stood there watching my phone not ring or say I had a missed call or a voicemail. Speed doesn't mean **** to me when I pay almost $100 a month and the damn phone won't ring. Even after two iPhones and two sim cards the problem persists. People want the network to function and they continue to ignore it in their ad campaigns and act like nothings wrong.

      Speed doesn't matter when the phone doesn't ring.
    1. RyanWS's Avatar
      RyanWS -
      Where I live, I get both networks fine. I came over from Verizon when I got the iPhone. When I was at Verizon, I had issues with texting. Now, on ATT, my calls drop. I had a much bigger issue with Verizon, and they never made as much effort as ATT is making to fix their issues.
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      Where i live the speed is great but i've always known the iPhone to have less signal strength than other phones. That's one thing i hope gets improved with the next model.
    1. vegassteven's Avatar
      vegassteven -
      You k ow, I could care Les if AT&T had the full high speed 7.2 Mbps network everywhere. But what about the terrible dropped call rate and call quality?

      Got so bad I made a blog about it and so far I have hits. Big surprise huh?

      At&t – Call Failed… Again!
    1. kadernal's Avatar
      kadernal -
      Quote Originally Posted by howlett15 View Post
      How did they test verizon and sprints network with the iPhone? Lol am I missing something here?

      i think it said they didnt use any iphones....


      I have no problems with AT&T tho... I downloaded some large torrents while tethered on a drive from VT>FL.... the only time I have experienced dropped calls was at electric zoo.... but I would say NYC is the worst place I have ever been, iphone is always on edge when im there.
    1. vegassteven's Avatar
      vegassteven -
      Another thing... If this was an iPhone failure (dropped calls) when it is congested, there would be no usable iPhones in Tokyo, Manila, or any other non American city.

      This is AT&T hiring some company to write anreport suggesting it is apple and not AT&T who is to blame. That way AT&T does not directly say it is apple
    1. mastuul's Avatar
      mastuul -
      The grass is always greener on the other side.

      I love my iPhone and can't imagine using anything else and since it's my decision what I buy, I think I'll stick with it.

      Of course they do tests in major cities because that's where more people live. Obviously everyone doesn't live in a major city, but what good does it do to do testing in places in the middle of no where?

      These posts make so much more sense when you read the whole thing, don't they? ;-)
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by howlett15 View Post
      How did they test verizon and sprints network with the iPhone? Lol am I missing something here?
      Yes you are missing quite a lot, in fact. NONE of the networks were actually tested on the iPhone.
    1. xKaMikAx's Avatar
      xKaMikAx -
      I don't think it's the phone. I personally think it's the network and how big of a failed attempt it was for AT&T to launch 3G. Their behind, everyone is on HSPA+ they are just rolling out 7.2 HSPA. I just think the network can't handle it.

      Because here in Canada, Rogers 3G is a complete failure the speeds suck on the iPhone or any at all. Now that Bell and Telus launched HSPA+ (Entire country is HSPA+) I easily get over 400 kB/s while my friends using a 3GS on Rogers gets over 150 kB/s if their lucky..

      Hard to believe that the iPhone works everywhere else great except for the USA. I am pretty sure AT&T's network just can't handle the load.
    1. Bassoonist23's Avatar
      Bassoonist23 -
      Quote Originally Posted by KartRacer View Post
      It's not off topic. Speed is great, IF you live in those cities they tested in. They are responding to coverage attacks with speed difference. They are continuing to ignore the coverage issue and focusing on something that hasn't been brought up in any competitors ads recently. I agree with AT&T, the speed is phenomenal. IF you live in a major metropolitan area. They need to focus their attention on the network as a whole rather than speak about how fast they are. I'll say it again, speed is great but I'd bet half their customer base could care less about how fast it is versus being able to use the damn network. SanFran has had a massive outage this past weekend, they released an app about reporting network problems and so on. Most people want that fixed. In the past two weeks I've had 10 voicemails that never got to my phone, and as many missed calls. No indication. Twice today I had two people call my phone (Verizon customers) and leave a voicemail and I stood there watching my phone not ring or say I had a missed call or a voicemail. Speed doesn't mean **** to me when I pay almost $100 a month and the damn phone won't ring. Even after two iPhones and two sim cards the problem persists. People want the network to function and they continue to ignore it in their ad campaigns and act like nothings wrong.

      Speed doesn't matter when the phone doesn't ring.
      Yes I understand entirely where ur comin from. The other thing that really matters here and what I'm most interested here is it the iPhone or the network. Coverage may suck in some area I won't lie. Verizon has it's weak spits two. I've had instances where I don't have coverage and my friend on verizon did. But I've also had service where he did not. I've gone to Georgia. New jersey. Nevada. And everywhere I live in soutern Cali and never had no coverage except were it's obvious you wouldn't. Some mountain areas and middle of absolute no where. But again what I'm interested in is if it is the iPhone that just isn't working right on the network then how will this get fixed. I've never had these random problems with signal and what not with another AT&T phone. Fact: iPhone has had one bar when the Sony erricson next to it had full bars. How can the most "advanced" phone have such a glitch. Apple needs to step up if that's the case. If it's AT&T they need to step up.
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Quote Originally Posted by mastuul View Post
      The grass is always greener on the other side.

      I love my iPhone and can't imagine using anything else and since it's my decision what I buy, I think I'll stick with it.

      Of course they do tests in major cities because that's where more people live. Obviously everyone doesn't live in a major city, but what good does it do to do testing in places in the middle of no where?

      These posts make so much more sense when you read the whole thing, don't they? ;-)
      I live in a county with over a quarter of a million people and a military airstation. Not middle of nowhere by any stretch. Not to mention I live 30 minutes from the 4th largest port on the east coast. As I type I'm looking at my phone and it has two bars of service. When I go outside it goes to 5 with zero difference in speed in proportion to signal strength. I can't talk on the phone traveling in the direction of Savannah without dropping every single call I make. Say I want to go to Charleston and visit the wonderful Apple store on King St. Can't use my phone for 70% of the drive because I have no signal, but HEY, it works great in Charleston! Whoo hoo! Won't bother stressing that it's the only way to get there from here either. Going to Macon GA can't get **** for signal till you get close to any town traveling on a major highway. No signal. But when you get to Macon you'll have a great signal! AT&T blows in every which way possible unless you live next door to alot of people. They can put whatever spin the want on it, I still know ******** when I see it and I know when I'm being lied to.
    1. ecd5000's Avatar
      ecd5000 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bbplayer5 View Post
      Speed tests in the Allentown area show the 3Gs about 3 times slower than my Droid. Thats all I need to see.
      blah blah blah, im from LHV too and i dont have any problems with my 3g nor does anyone else i know with an iphone 3g/3gs. i think it is just everyones own opinion on whos faster with what phone
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Quote Originally Posted by ecd5000 View Post
      blah blah blah, im from LHV too and i dont have any problems with my 3g nor does anyone else i know with an iphone 3g/3gs. i think it is just everyones own opinion on whos faster with what phone
      Blah blah blah. My anecdote is somehow more accurate than your anecdote. Blah blah blah.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Quote Originally Posted by KartRacer View Post
      They can put whatever spin the want on it, I still know ******** when I see it and I know when I'm being lied to.
      Hey I think this guy knows when he's being lied to!
    1. nofixedadderess's Avatar
      nofixedadderess -
      oh stop the att bashing already .....iphone is great but not infallible and i havent had any issue with ATT's service in Houston,LA, Phoenix,Miami or Chicago ,places i've to fly to regularly......be it speed,coverage,data,voice,customer service,ATT has been quite upto the mark(in 30 months of ownership,had my first drop calls ever a few weeks back).....i have my phone jailkbroken but have never given a single thought to changing the carrier ; now,i have never had sprint but out of verizon,tmobile and att,i prefer att because my experience with their customer service has always been v.good.
    1. staterunner180's Avatar
      staterunner180 -
      Verizon still has better 3G coverage, we all know from the AT&T commercials that they are fast, but thats just in major cities. If your like me and live a small rural town in central IL there is no service from 30 minutes by car in any direction. That's why I'm on Verizon with a stupid phone instead of an iPhone. Because for miles and miles in any direction, I still get full bars and 3G, while my dad (how has an iPhone through work) only gets service in the town where he works, which is about 35 minutes away. If AT&T had better service I would gladly switch and get an iPhone, but its just not an option for me, that's probably how it is for alot of people too.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bassoonist23 View Post
      I find it funny how people can read a post (a well written and perfectly clear post) and not understand what it says and still bash on the wrong subject. it dosnt say att has better coverage than att or vice versa. what it says is att has faster speeds. and the test wasnt done on iphone it was done using other phones. the other thing they say is most off the problems with connectivity and dropped calls have to do with the iphone itself. so please dont post unless you know wtf your talking about. and who cares what carrier you have. take the one you want and leave it be. im staying with the iphone and att no matter what problems there is cause for one att hooks me up. and two i love the iphone (even though it has its problems. but what thing in this world dosnt).
      they didnt do this test with the iphone, therefore there is no conclusive evidence that the iphone is at all the culprit to low performance speeds....they are only guessing due to the fact that iphones were not used in this study that an iphone would be the cause....so uhhhh. maybe you should read the article.again.
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ty22 View Post
      I had a feeling it was the iPhone's problem. It's internals are cheap. That's why when I put my windows mobile phone next to my iPhone when the iPhone says "no service" my windows mobile phone has four bars. LEAVE AT&T ALONE! Tell apple to use half decent parts and fix the firmware.
      That's actually true, whereas my iPhone loses signal on O2 and goes to no service, all my friends with non-Apple phones get full signal or 4 bars at least.

      IPhone hardware is CHEAPLY made!!!!! Or it maybe just my iPhone but I don't want the new 3GS because it can't be jailbroken so...
    1. Rokesomesmeefer's Avatar
      Rokesomesmeefer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jahooba View Post
      I thought this was the main issue. It was a coverage issue, wasn't it? The speed comes second to coverage, because the speed of a download doesn't matter if you can't connect.

      I would rather have a larger coverage area and actually have it WORK than faster speeds in fewer locations.
      Some people prefer quality to quantity. Verizon may cover more area with their "all 3G network", but where there is good AT&T coverage AT&T is typically better.

      Here in South Florida I rarely have issues with my iPhone on AT&T and my connection is always quick, but my brother and father are both getting ready to tell Verizon to stuff their crap service where the sun doesn't shine.

      Oh, and Verizon shows pretty nearly ALL of Florida has "digital" coverage. I assure you that's utter BS. At least I know where my AT&T coverage ends when traveling.
    1. JacquesChirac's Avatar
      JacquesChirac -
      pshhh these networks are like insurance companies
      they all suck

      some just suck a little more than others