With all four of America’s largest operators cranking the 4G marketing machine to 11, you’ve got to wonder who can actually deliver the goods and who is just throwing money away on ads that could be better spent on actually, you know, delivering 4G? The folks at PC World, in conjunction with Novarum, have performed extensive testing across 13 major American cities using various smartphones and USB modems and the results speak for themselves. When it comes to who has the fastest modems, Verizon cleans the floor. LTE really is that fast and we can’t wait for the first LTE packed smartphones start hitting the market. Speaking about smartphones, the winner is T-Mobile, which is nice to see since they’re the underdog, the firm that most people laughed at for launching 3G so late and for opting to go with HSPA+ instead of something more advanced for their high speed network.
Now for some real numbers. The average download speed on a Verizon 4G LTE modem was 6.44 Mbps. Uploads came in at 5 Mbps, which is faster than what some people have with their cable/DSL modem at home. In next place was T-Mobile, 2.83/0.85 down/up, then AT&T with 2.48/1.05 down/up, and in last place there’s Sprint with 2.15/0.61 down/up. Now when talking about smartphones the tables turn. T-Mobile hits 2.28 Mbps down on average and 0.95 Mbps up. Next is Sprint with 1.50/0.56 down/up, AT&T with 1.45/0.97 down/up, and in last place is Verizon with barely 1 Mbps download speeds and 0.67 Mbps uploads.
The same series of tests was done in January 2010 and compared to that time Verizon’s USB modems are 634% faster, T-Mobile is 226% faster, Sprint is 170% faster, and AT&T is just 76% faster. When it comes to smartphones the gains are 217% for T-Mobile, 77% for Sprint, barely 15% for AT&T, and Verizon’s network actually slowed down 7% instead of speeding up. We’ll be waiting to see how 2011 shapes up, but it looks like T-Mobile and Verizon are set to win in terms of who has the best network for mobile data.