• "Drastic Makeover:" AT&T Now Tops in Download Speed

    Just under a year after coming in dead last in PCWorld's 3G Wireless Performance Test, AT&T's network is now winning handily with an average of 67% faster download speeds than its competitors. Coming after the CEO of AT&T Wireless's promise that the company was investing in improved infrastructure after years of dismal reviews, the result - what the testers refer to as a "drastic makeover" - is bound to give a boost to AT&T's battered public image. Analysts and US regulators have been predicting that the iPad's launch would bring the carrier's troubled network to a standstill.

    For the comparison, PCWorld testers went to 13 US cities and recorded upload and download speeds from 20 individual locations situated in a grid in the downtown area of each city, running more than 51,000 tests in December and January. AT&T's average download speed was 1,410 kbps and upload of 773 kbps, far ahead of all other competitors and an improvement of 84% over last year's results. AT&T's commitment to address poor performance in New York and San Francisco markets has apparently borne fruit, with three times faster download speeds as compared to last spring in New York City and 40% faster downloads in San Francisco since the previous survey.

    In addition, the survey also looked at reliability, with the tester checking to see how often they were able to establish an uninterrupted connection while doing the speed tests. In this area the carriers all performed roughly equally, with reliable connections coming 92% of the time for both T-Mobile and Verizon, and AT&T and Sprint both somewhat more reliable with 94% of all connections being solid. 8 months ago, AT&Tís reliability rate was coming in at just 64% in PCWorld's tests.

    In addition, in Baltimore, Boston, and New York - cities where the advanced HSPA 7.2 Mbps networks have been deployed - PCWorld measured burst speeds exceeding 4000 kbps. By the end of the year, AT&T says they plan to have HSPA in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Columbus, Austin, Memphis, Baltimore, Fort Worth, Charlotte, El Paso, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, and Denver.

    image via PCWorld
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