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AT&T Wins Gizmodo 3G Bandwidth Test

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the avoid-the-mountains dept.

Cellphones 156

ink writes "Gizmodo has completed a 12-city test of 3G cellular bandwidth speed. Verizon won four of the twelve, however AT&T scored higher with six: 'Let's get this straight right away: We didn't test dropped voice calls, we didn't test customer service, and we didn't test map coverage by wandering around in the boonies. We tested the ability of the networks to deliver 3G data in and around cities, including both concrete canyons and picket-fenced 'burbs. And while every 3G network gave us troubles on occasion, AT&T's wasn't measurably more or less reliable than Verizon's.'"

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156 comments

app for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539394)

On a related note, Gizmodo is writing an app for that.

What about sustained transfers? (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539400)

I find I can get a nice burst for the first couple of megabytes then Im throttled pretty badly. Id like to know which carrier doesnt do this. It doesnt look related to reception.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539436)

Who cares, a couple of megabytes are more than enough for a good view of goatse [goatse.fr] .

Re:What about sustained transfers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539482)

This is an Apple fanboi site, as is Giz. They're going to limit tests results to what they want to see. The reality is 3G is bloody slow regardless of what carrier we have, and performances differences of something slightly less slow than something that is slow is utterly pointless.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (5, Interesting)

yoyhed (651244) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539722)

Also, try going to Gizmodo without Adblock on. Note ALL the AT&T "Better 3G Experience" ads - especially the one with fucking Luke Wilson that is masquerading as an ACTUAL FUCKING STORY. Yeah, I'm sure this is a completely unbiased test. And 3G is not slow for me, on Verizon I get sustained 150 kiloBYTE/s downloads. That was my cable internet speed a few years ago, but now I have it on my phone!

Re:What about sustained transfers? (1)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540244)

I get 150KB/s downloads out in Manassas in Virginia with AT&T 3G. Sustained. It's actually better than the cable service that when I need to download anything of significant size (Ubuntu, iPhone SDK, etc.), I break out the 3G. The free cable service with the HOA is only 50KB/sec by comparison. It sucks but hey it's free.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (1)

gilgongo (57446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540440)

I get 150KB/s downloads out in Manassas in Virginia with AT&T 3G.

Wha?? Is anyone in the UK reading this and thinking what I'm thinking? I've got an iPhone 3GS and download speeds are ridiculously slow all the time no matter where you are (I live and work in London).

This post reminded me to ask somebody else about this - O2's 3G seems to go at about the same speed as my 14.4K modem did in 1996. Is that other people's experience too?

Re:What about sustained transfers? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541204)

I don't have an iPhone, so I can't comment on that specifically, but I've used to use my phone as a bluetooth modem while I'm on the bus or train and I can get 50KB/s (bottleneck appears to be the phone's Bluetooth implementation; I can't get much more transferring files from the phone either) on T-Mobile's UMTS network. Service drops out in tunnels, obviously, but works well through most of South Wales. No idea about London - I try to avoid the place when possible.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541660)

Try a sustained download of a single large file. I don't have an iPhone, but I did have tethering on my non-ATT, non-smart, non-iPhone a while back. The download speed was fine, but I was getting 1000 -- 2000+ ms latency, which killed everything else.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30541246)

Why the hell was this modded flamebait, for pointing out the fact that Gizmodo is plastered with AT&T ads, some of which are insidiously structured just like an actual story on the site?

Re:What about sustained transfers? (5, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539678)

I find I can get a nice burst for the first couple of megabytes then Im throttled pretty badly. Id like to know which carrier doesnt do this. It doesnt look related to reception.

Short answer: it seems that all US carriers do this, either because (i) they underestimated demand and under-invested in infrastructure, or (ii) because they can maximize their revenues while minimizing their costs, and the customers are trapped into long term contracts.
This sort of throttling by carriers is unheard-of in more advanced countries, such as Finland or Sweden. None of the carriers do that here; if they tried it, they'd have no customers left within a month or two (terminating a contract is trivial, and does not entail penalties). There are no usage caps on 3G either - unlimited actually does mean unlimited.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (-1, Flamebait)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539772)

This sort of throttling by carriers is unheard-of in more advanced countries, such as Finland or Sweden.

Yeah Finland and Sweden are so much more advanced. The other day I was flying to LA on a Finnish jet and I caught myself thinking how great that was compared to those lousy Boeing models...

Re:What about sustained transfers? (3, Insightful)

babblefrog (1013127) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539998)

Actually, it's surprising that nobody else has noticed that this discussion is really about aviation, not telecommunications. Slashdotters are really slipping.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (1, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540070)

Yes but I managed to get the elusive +2 Flamebait mod. Wooo.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30541350)

Yeah, Airbus is for suckers.

Re:What about sustained transfers? (0, Troll)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540590)

Yeah, that's great, but you have to live in Sweden or Finland, blech.

Look at the latency (3, Insightful)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539422)

From what I can see, the latency on the Verizon lines is much better. That's more important to me, at least, considering the amount of VoiP I do on my cell phone.

I mean, uh, browsing I do on mobile networks.

Re:Look at the latency (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539470)

It seems to vary, like the throughput does, and roughly correlated with it. For example, AT&T latency seems better at all the locations in Atlanta [gizmodo.com] . It does have some absolutely terrible ones in some cities, though (700ms+ latencies).

Re:Look at the latency (3, Interesting)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539820)

I'd be curious to see the results of a test conducted as follows:

Setup a test rig that automatically tests download speed and latency from a few different servers (globally dispersed) every 30 seconds. Have it geotag each result.

Drive around each of the cities (and metro area surrounding them), and gather the data over a few days for each city.

Then, compute a few different metrics. First, for each carrier, generate a heat map of download speeds (It would wind up looking something like Verizon's 3g Map, but with different colors denoting speed ranges). If there are multiple readings in a given area (Say 100m^2), average them.

Second, figure out the peak speed, minimum speed, average speed (Both mean and RMS) as well as the standard deviation for each carrier.

There's so much focus on peak speed these days (well, at least that's what gets the press), that I think people forget that what matters is the average experience. It's like with stereo amplifiers: Peak wattage tells you nothing about overall power output, RMS wattage (Root Mean Square) tells you about power output...

Just my idea. Feel free to steal or rip it to shreds...

Re:Look at the latency (4, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540820)

Second, figure out the peak speed, minimum speed, average speed (Both mean and RMS)...

I always thought RMS [stallman.org] and mean [merriam-webster.com] were synonymous.

Re:Look at the latency (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541598)

Speedtest.net already does this, although I don't think they publish the information broken down with 3G only numbers. It specifically tests 3G speeds using the iPhone app, and geo-tags your location to get the closest server with the lowest ping times. They do have the info on file though. I wonder why they don't publish it?

http://www.speedtest.net/global.php [speedtest.net]

Re:Look at the latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30541768)

why not make an iphone app that clones the features of speedtest.net?

I doubt that Apple would allow it though.

Re:Look at the latency (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540964)

Here's some anecdotal evidence of how horrible Verizon is, in practice, in my area and how they're losing ground to other carriers. My area is the "rural midwest", specifically the state of South Dakota.

Mission, South Dakota. If you haven't heard of it, look it up on Wikipedia or something. It's nowhere.

A friend and I drove there recently to visit another friend from Rapid City. Our reception along i90 was fairly similar: we'd both lose signal completely in the 'valleys' between the hills from time to time between Wall and Mission (note: this is plains country, so a hill is still pretty marginal) - a ~150 mile stretch of major interstate.

My friend has a HTC Touch Pro 2 (which is a really nice phone) on t-mobile. His actual signal/sound quality was significantly better when he had reception. My phone, a common "free" flip phone from Verizon, lost signal along i90 approximately 2/3 as often, but the conversations had a lot of "say that again" in them due to lack of audio quality/over-encryption and the like.

Then we got south of i90 to head directly to Mission. Suddenly, he's got full bar EDGE signal (through iwireless, I think). I don't think I had more than 2 bars the entire trip, yet he was able to sync with his Exchange server and a bunch of other nice things (for all intents and purposes) unavailable on other providers.

Re:Look at the latency (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541210)

Mission, South Dakota. If you haven't heard of it, look it up on Wikipedia or something. It's nowhere.

That is among the many punishments you get for living in South Dakota.

Re:Look at the latency (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541824)

Then we got south of i90 to head directly to Mission. Suddenly, he's got full bar EDGE signal (through iwireless, I think). I don't think I had more than 2 bars the entire trip, yet he was able to sync with his Exchange server and a bunch of other nice things (for all intents and purposes) unavailable on other providers.

Was he roaming on AT&Ts network? That occurs to me when I am away from big cities and using T-Mobile.

Re:Look at the latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539530)

San Francisco seems to be a trouble spot for AT&T with 700+ ms latencies; AT&T's latency is also significantly worse than other carriers' latencies in LA, Las Vegas, and NYC.

Re:Look at the latency (3, Insightful)

Otterley (29945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539542)

I agree, and this is why I have nothing but contempt for typical "best provider performance" conclusions that are driven solely by single-connection TCP transfer tests (e.g. speedtest.net).

In most cases, latency matters more than bandwidth (where bandwidth is roughly the same within an order of magnitude or so). This is why there's a very strong correlation between the provider that had the lowest measured latency and the provider that had the lowest page retrieval time. In the end, real-world page loading is precisely what we use smartphones for, and so we need to know how that application performs, instead of what raw transfer rates are.

I still think the Gizmodo tests are deficient, though, as they are unclear as to whether they repeated the tests at regular intervals over a 24-hour period. Network congestion varies throughout the day, and at any given moment one path may be more congested than another. A valid test, IMO, would take the average (or median) of each metric over a 24-hour period (or even longer, covering both a weekday and a weekend, since usage varies among them).

Re:Look at the latency (3, Informative)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539734)

Engadget did a similar test a year-ish ago. AT&T was leaps and bounds faster than Verizon's 3G, in fact AT&T's 2G tested as fast as Verizon's 3G, and the latency was measurably lower on AT&T as well, at least where they tested the four providers: [engadget] [engadget.com]

Re:Look at the latency (2, Insightful)

blargster (239820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540386)

No wonder AT&T is complaining about Verizon's "we have 5x more 3G" campaign when Verizon's 3G is the same as AT&T's 2G (which does have more coverage than Verizon's 3G).

The truth is that the provider's definition of "*G" is what ever their marketing departments say it is. There is no absolute standard of comparison on the marketing front. You have to dig into the actual specs to do so.

JPEG artifacts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539466)

Look at this ugly crap [gizmodo.com] . The tables are JPEG images. Isn't gizmodo a technology website? Shouldn't they know what they're doing? For computer generated art (i.e., anything that's not a photograph) JPEG's are ugly and full of artifacts. PNG's use lossless compression, have no artifacts, and are usually smaller.

Re:JPEG artifacts (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539616)

No, it's a hipster gadgets website. They even have GIRLS working there!

Re:JPEG artifacts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539624)

1. "Tables are images", is a usual trick to prevent trivial copy-pasting and promote linking to the original site.

2. "PNG v. JPEG." Were you born yesterday or what? JPEGs look crap precisely because they are over-compressed to minimize potentially high traffic. PNGs are larger, sometimes magnitudes larger in comparison to JPEGs.

Re:JPEG artifacts (1)

MR.Mic (937158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540358)

PNG will be smaller when the image contains large areas of the same color.
Rasterized vector graphics is usually great for this.
The the image the parent linked to is a perfect candidate for PNG compression.

Better Sample Size (4, Informative)

rliden (1473185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539468)

While I care about speed, I care more about coverage and reliability. Did the testers cherry pick AT&T friendly locations? I know when I went to Washington D.C. earlier this year that not only was my 3G coverage under AT&T spotty, my ability to simply connect to AT&T and make calls was also poor. It would be a much more interesting test if this was performed in every city over a certain population size. In my opinion 12 cities does not make a good test.

I'll admit I'm biased though. I've been an AT&T mobile customer for a bit over 2 years now and I don't like their service or support.

Re:Better Sample Size (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539526)

Exactly, and also they completely left out the midwest. Well, thanks Gizmodo, if I move to the coasts I'll know what service to get, but since there weren't any tests done even close to where I live the data is totally useless.

They also failed to give a price to service ratio, that would have made things a lot more fair. Yeah, you might get a faster network but if the price difference is $15 a month, many people might reconsider.

This test the way it is, is akin to someone comparing an Intel Atom to a Pentium 4 to a Core i7 based on pure speed and saying that the Core i7 is the better bet, all the while ignoring the fact that a Pentium 4 box is much cheaper and an Intel Atom CPU is going to give you better battery life.

Re:Better Sample Size (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539914)

ME ME ME ME ME

WHAT ABOUT ME!!!

Never mind where MOST OF THE FUCKING POPULATION LIVES!

Re:Better Sample Size (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540154)

Yeah, because everyone lives on Maui....

Re:Better Sample Size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540234)

Most of the USA /. population seems to live in basements in the midwest. Scientists have yet to determine whether they are drawn to the midwest by the basements, or whether the basements actually create /. readers. We need to radio-tag and observe another generation to be sure.

Re:Better Sample Size (1)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540388)

The coasts probably got most of the love because that's where you always hear of people having major connection issues (such as NYC and SF). You don't often hear of people in, oh... Kansas worked up because their iPhone's aren't connecting to the network.

Re:Better Sample Size (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541602)

Well, thanks Gizmodo, if I move to the coasts I'll know what service to get, but since there weren't any tests done even close to where I live the data is totally useless.

Live on the Oregon Coast - AT&T's coverage is complete ass.

Re:Better Sample Size (1)

pwnies (1034518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540762)

Seems to be just randomly chosen, most likely based up on where they had Gizmodo people traveling to during the holidays. If they wanted a more fair test, they ought to probably hit the top cities based on population [wikipedia.org] and/or density - thus covering the largest sample of people. Seems right now that they're just using convenience sampling [wikipedia.org] though, which has huge flaws behind it.

Re:Better Sample Size (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541608)

I've been an AT&T mobile customer for a bit over 2 years now and I don't like their service or support.

Why are you still with them ?.. If it's because they are the only game in your town, then you do like their service.. If it's because they are the only one who has the phone you want, then you do like their support.. Your with them for a reason.. it's just more fun to bitch.

Price/speed needed (0, Redundant)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539484)

What would make this more useful is if Gizmodo took the prices, speed and quality and looked at it that way. Also missing are bandwidth caps and if there is throttling. Yeah, AT&T might have a faster network for browsing, but it has other flaws, namely high price, throttling and the fact 3G is scarce. If they added in all these things it would be a much better and fairer look.

It's not the 12 that counts, it's the rest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539486)

I travel all over. I usually consult in city that are not the major metropolitan centers. If you are NOT in the major metros, Verizon wins 9 times out of 10. I know from experience - I used to be Verizon, switched to ATT then found major, as in huge gaps in service (out to major metros) --- ATT had no signal. Not some signal, I mean zero. Once I got back on Verizon, covered. So this test is irrelevant.

If you don't travel, get the best signal provider in your area. If you travel, Verizon is best.

Re:It's not the 12 that counts, it's the rest... (3, Insightful)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539562)

I travel all over (in the US). I usually consult in city that are not the major metropolitan centers (in the US). If you are NOT in the major metros (in the US), Verizon wins 9 times out of 10. Once I got back on Verizon, covered (in the US).

If you don't travel, get the best signal provider in your area. If you travel (only in the US), Verizon is best.

There, I fixed that for you. A CDMA phone is going to be useless outside of the US unless you have a "world" phone which also includes a SIM and GSM radio for the rest of the world outside of the US. If you travel internationally, you are better off with a GSM/HSPA phone.

Re:It's not the 12 that counts, it's the rest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30541008)

Verizon now has the HTC Touch Pro 2, which is, as I understand it, a World phone (EDGE) with CDMA 3G.

And no, I'd not recommend anyone get it, despite it being one of the only good phones you can use on their networks. Get a different provider.

They all suck. (4, Insightful)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539496)

Having been through Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T over the years (never tried Sprint), my conclusion is they're all way oversold with shitty reliability and doubly shitty and uneven customer service. Typical megacorporations to whom any individual customer matters NOT AT ALL.

Re:They all suck. (1)

Velorium (1068080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539698)

So who do you use now?

I use AT&T, (1, Insightful)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539750)

specifically because of the iPhone and iPhone upgrades. Yes, I like the iPhone. It's the first smartphone (having used Palm for a long time, then Blackberry for a while) that I really use to its potential, and that really simply transparently works for me for all of my calendaring, contacts, email, etc. in a way that doesn't feel "phone-ish."

Of the three, Verizon is the one I would absolutely refuse to go back to no matter what, for two reasons: 1) GSM [lack of], and 2) Verizon is the one of the three that caused the biggest billing cock-ups, which took months to clear up in each case and led to my determination to leave them ASAP.

Re:I use AT&T, (0)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540250)

It's pretty easy to use a device that can only run one app at a time to its potential. That said, I've been with AT&T for 9 years now and...

Well, if you ever have to call them for anything, be prepared to translate Habib-English. Other than support consistently getting WORSE (it's rare that I have to call, so this is minor), AT&T has been improving steadily the entire time I've been with them.

I have no particular interest in multitasking (1, Troll)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540442)

on a phone. Here are the things I did want:

- Phone + Google + Evolution + Mac OS calendar, all synced, automatically, all the time
- GTD system task manager that syncs automatically to a web-based GTD system (Toodledo)
- A rapidly accessible text + voice + photo notes system with tagging that syncs automatically to a web-based interface
- No more "event" syncs (i.e. put in dock/plug into USB, have to remember to sync), all syncs immediate and transparent
- The REAL web of non-"mobile" pages, including AJAX capability
- Flexibility to grow in capabilities

I also got along with it:

- A kindle (with Kindle app)
- YouTube anywhere
- Great GPS integration for nearly every app both for consumption (shopping, dining, directions) and production (contextualizing input data)

iPhone gave me all of this. I tried Palm and Blackberry and they never came close to what I wanted. The iPhone is actually the first technology device in a very long time that I'm absolutely fully satisfied with. No complaints, no qualms, no niggles. That never happens, but it happened with the iPhone. You'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

Re:I have no particular interest in multitasking (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540604)

on a phone. Here are the things I did want:

- Phone + Google + Evolution + Mac OS calendar, all synced, automatically, all the time
- GTD system task manager that syncs automatically to a web-based GTD system (Toodledo)

I Googled GTD Blackberry
First result: http://www.isaacbowman.com/gtd-blackberry-productivity [isaacbowman.com] but it doesn't sync... so
I Googled toodledo blackberry and, low and behold, the first result:
http://www.taskjot.com/ [taskjot.com]

- A rapidly accessible text + voice + photo notes system with tagging that syncs automatically to a web-based interface

http://www.brighthub.com/mobile/blackberry-platform/reviews/35220.aspx [brighthub.com]
Another first result

- No more "event" syncs (i.e. put in dock/plug into USB, have to remember to sync), all syncs immediate and transparent

http://www.google.com/mobile/products/sync.html#p=default [google.com]
First result, again

- The REAL web of non-"mobile" pages, including AJAX capability

http://www.opera.com/mini/ [opera.com]
fi.... oh fuck it, you know...

- Flexibility to grow in capabilities

Ability to develop my own apps and not need RIM's blessing before use. Oh, and... thousands of applications and games available to me.

I also got along with it:

- A kindle (with Kindle app)

Blackberry kindle app is in dev... I can't imagine doing any serious reading on that screen (or the iPhone screen), though.

- YouTube anywhere

Built in. Visit http://www.youtube.com/ [youtube.com] from the BB browser and yes, you can watch the videos.

- Great GPS integration for nearly every app both for consumption (shopping, dining, directions) and production (contextualizing input data)

Built in. No, really, it's there, and it works.

iPhone gave me all of this. I tried Palm and Blackberry and they never came close to what I wanted. The iPhone is actually the first technology device in a very long time that I'm absolutely fully satisfied with. No complaints, no qualms, no niggles. That never happens, but it happened with the iPhone. You'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

I don't know about Palm, but you must not have owned a BlackBerry for more than an hour, or you'd already know it can do all of this. In fact, it can do all of it AT THE SAME TIME.

Can you do that on the iPhone? Sorry, there's no "app for that".

My primary device is a BlackBerry Bold. I also have a 2nd gen iPhone that I use primarily for testing layouts and web features in Safari mobile.

I seriously don't know why the hell people bow down to the iPhone. It's just a damned phone, and a fair bit less capable than my primary device, which is why it's my secondary.

Re:I have no particular interest in multitasking (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540632)

Oops, I missed the first point...

That's ok tho, Google Sync, mentioned in the 4th point, has it covered :)

I would call you a TROLL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540474)

I have made a few calls to AT&T/Cingular customer service over the years (most recently related to a new Win Mobile phone that refused to work). Not even one time have I had to deal with a customer service rep in Habib-English. I always got a nice person from a location in the US.

Also, I ever ever get a person who I can't understand, I will politely ask them if they could transfer me to another rep with a less intensive accent. Also, when I call, I don't scream at the person on the other side of the phone line. What ever the problem is, it is not their fault ... they just work for the company. You get better, faster and more positive results when you are polite than when you are an a-hole. When you do this, if they can't help, they will usually transfer you to somebody who can or can give you a deal you can live with.

Re:I use AT&T, (1)

pgmrdlm (1642279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540480)

Well, if you ever have to call them for anything, be prepared to translate Habib-English. Other than support consistently getting WORSE (it's rare that I have to call, so this is minor), AT&T has been improving steadily the entire time I've been with them.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean, I have never had to 'translate Habib-English' and I have been with AT&T shoot, almost 20 years now that I think about it. First in North eastern Pennsylvania and now in Cleveland Ohio?

I'll stay with AT&T just because twice they gave me breaks on my billing when they did not have to.
Once when I was out of area during my brothers funeral, they back dated my coverage change so I wouldn't have to pay roaming calls.
And once when I first moved to Ohio, I had back to back 400 dollar cell phone bills. They gave me a 200 dollar break.
And no, I asked for neither break.

So, they have won my loyality.

Re:I use AT&T, (4, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541900)

Yes, I like the iPhone. It's the first smartphone (having used Palm for a long time, then Blackberry for a while) that I really use to its potential

That's easy to do when the potential of a device is so limited.

I on the other hand will say that I will never use the full potential of my Android phone and that is not through lack of trying. I have a phone that sync's my Gmail, ISP mail and work mail into separate programs that can be open at the same time each with different notification settings, can be turned on and off independent of each other and programmed to operate on different schedules (I.E. I want my personal mail on Saturday, not my work mail).

Saying that you use the full potential of anything is not good, this means that you will reach the limitations of the device leaving no room for growth. The Iphone is a closed ecosystem, a completely controlled environment where there is little variation, thus little change (mutation, the iphone is akin to monoculture farming, which tends to degrades the species over time) where as Android is an entirely open ecosystem where new variables can enter easily leading to new functions or enhancements of existing ones.

Piss off, 3G (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539532)

3G is a joke, but it's not a funny one. The FCC promised that we'd start to see high speed wireless internet now that the spectrum's been auctioned off. But like everything else, they seem to have lied -- shoving costs down the consumer's throat in the middle of a recession, raking in the money with a smile from the auctions... Everything about the so-called digital transition was a scam. Price fixing of LCD TV prices, running out of converter boxes -- and charging twice as much as they were worth in the store to soak up the free money those vouchers gave them... hmph.

Where's the alternatives here? They all have bandwidth caps. None of them are investing in the backhaul infrastructure. The network coverage is a joke, the handsets have disabled tethering, locked in the search engines... I mean, hell -- a pringles can and a wifi card does better than every other solution we have here in the United States for mobile internet. What the hell happened?

Re:Piss off, 3G (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539642)

I am a huge fan of the digital TV conversion, since the picture is so good (better than cable or satellite digital), and not encrypted. I didn't pay much above the coupon price for my analog converter boxes, either.

I am very curious, though, has anybody brought out services on the freed-up analog TV bandwidth? Are these 3g services using that?

Re:Piss off, 3G (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539808)

I am a huge fan of the digital TV conversion, since the picture is so good (better than cable or satellite digital), and not encrypted. I didn't pay much above the coupon price for my analog converter boxes, either.

The picture is good. But that's no excuse for what they did. Switching to a widescreen format meant that for those still using standard TVs, 33% of the available viewing space was lost for those who stuck with it. For those who upgraded, the smallest LCD TV sets cost over $500. Comparably, they were about twice as expensive as the previous generation. That's a lot of cash to be forking out at a time when we're in a recession and 10% or more of the population is unemployed -- let alone under-employed. We all knew the prices were being fixed, but it took the government two years to blow the whistle on it -- and even with the fines they still came out way ahead. So the FCC collected billions from the spectrum auction, the LCD manufacturers collected billions more by creating artificial shortages and price fixing schemas, and all of that came out the pockets of every person who bought a DTV.

3G services do NOT use the freed up spectrum. They use already-allocated space. As to what does use that new spectrum? Well... nothing you'd care about. In fact, very little at all right now. The licenses have been sold, but the consumers haven't seen any benefit. Don't worry though -- you'll be paying for the licenses those companies bought. One way or another, you'll pay.

Re:Piss off, 3G (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540144)

Well, I'm still sticking with my old Trinitron, and my digital converter box offers a "zoom" mode so I don't waste any scanlines on black bars.

I did get finally upgrade my computer monitor recently, a 21.5" 1920x1080 for a little under $100 from staples.com on Black Friday, so I can watch full-res HDTV on that using a USB ATSC receiver.

I certainly can't condone price-fixing though.

Re:Piss off, 3G (2, Insightful)

Burdell (228580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540898)

A 16:9 image on a 4:3 screen leaves 25% (not 33%) black, and 16:9 digital TVs were available for under $300 (not over $500). 3G spectrum was allocated years ago, long before the analog TV cut-off; it takes time (and a lot of money) to roll out new services in new frequency bands. Since Congress kept changing the analog cut-off date, nobody was going to spend a dime buying and building out equipment to utilize the old high-UHF frequency until it was actually available. You might start seeing some of it in use next year.

Re:Piss off, 3G (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541522)

The smallest LCD TV costs over $500? You're not even close. I've seen them under the $200 mark. They're not the best TV's around but it's hardly impossible to find a decent TV for less than $500.

Re:Piss off, 3G (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541850)

For those who upgraded, the smallest LCD TV sets cost over $500

Really?

Vizio 720p 32" $350 [costco.com]

Heck the 32" Panasonic is $399.

I would hardly call a 32" TV "small" by any means.

Under 30" the price drops to well under $300.

Re:Piss off, 3G (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541022)

Except, in rural areas, where reception was spotty previously. Sure, you'd get TV signal, just slightly 'snowed'.

Now, good luck watching TV if there's inclement weather.

Re:Piss off, 3G (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539668)

we just got clearwire wimax here in austin tx... city wide broadband, no 3g required, operating off of the fore-mentioned spectrums you spoke of.. maybe you should write your congressman and tell them to work to get wimax in your city

use a 3rd party cell phone company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539688)

There are smaller cell phone companies that offer lower prices ($30 month, for unlimited talking) than the big four. If the big cell phone companies don't put the money into infrastructure, they will be underpriced by the local companies. Wait for LTE to come along. Things will change... if enough spectrum is freed up.

Re:Piss off, 3G (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539724)

Don't worry, the next time we give them free money [telephonyonline.com] it will be different.

BWUAHAHAHAHAHAAHA

Re:Piss off, 3G (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539740)

Can I suggest a method I use to spread the word?

If I get a dropped call, I YELL "Fucking piece of shit! Fuck AT&T!!!".

Being in manhattan around 50+ ppl in audible range multiplied by several drops a day....

I'd like to think I lose AT&T at least one potential customer every 6 hours or so.

Wha? (3, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539574)

AT&T's wasn't measurably more or less reliable than Verizon's

So how is this a 'win' exactly? Sounds more like a tie to me.

Re:Wha? (3, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540478)

Title of article "AT&T Wins Gizmodo 3G Bandwidth Test".
Not Article Title "AT&T Wins Gizmodo 3G Reliability Test".

Notice any difference in the two?

Re:Wha? (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540862)

AT&T's wasn't measurably more or less reliable than Verizon's

So how is this a 'win' exactly?

I think they forgot the asterisk after "wins" in the title:
* true only for sufficiently extreme values of fanboyism

I mean, c'mon, it is Gizmodo.

Not a valid test anyhoo - for the whiners (-1, Troll)

gearloos (816828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539596)

This wasnt a controlled sientific test anyhoo, and for that matter how could you do one? Variables like solar angle, temperature, day of the year and minute of the day(solar cycle stuff), air traffic, ground traffic(was there a truck and trailer 2 blocks away between you and the cell site causing phase distortion?) was there a kid walking down the street playing a DS that he dropped and is now emitting a harmonic that is close to the fundamental frequency? How tall was the guy holding the phone? How much did he weigh? Was his body in contact with the phone or was he wearing gloves or a holster? Which hip was it on, which way was he facing? LOL were the windows on the building across the street dirty and was the air moist enough to put moisture on the dirt causing reflectivity? Was he barefoot and walking in a park where a dog peed 2 hours ago thereby making the ground he was standing on more conductive(a better ground)? LOL these are all things that affect that tiny RF signal in some small way. I'll just leave it at-- I use Tmo and in Los Angeles, it works great. Thats all I care about. Oh and I don't have to keep swatting that dam map outa my way. :)

Re:Not a valid test anyhoo - for the whiners (1)

Maniacal (12626) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540422)

Funny

I get a kick out of those map ads. The "Island of forgotten toys" one cracks me up. Probably because that Rudolph special was a must see every year when I was a kid.

hahahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539606)

Sounds like AT&T gets the last laugh after all...

That isn't the problem with AT&T (3, Insightful)

dynamo (6127) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539612)

Someone should go do a test of the dropped call quantity and voice quality when in these same areas. That is where AT&T is so difficult to have to use as a primary phone line. The data service is actually much more reliable, and ironically makes Skype average much higher in quality / reliability from the same phone in the same place.

At least, in my experience.

Re:That isn't the problem with AT&T (2, Insightful)

amohat (88362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540288)

I agree. Who cares about data speeds when you can't rely on your PHONE to make calls?

"dang, this is taking a little longer to download."

"WTF?!? HELLO? HELLO? ARRGH!!! I was on hold for a hour to talk to that rep!!!"

One of these scenarios irritates me, the other makes me want to murder death kill.

Honest question (5, Informative)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539658)

Why do you, Americans, put up with your mobile operators specifically disabling features (like tethering or bluetooth) on phones being sold via contracts? Here where I live (Finland), such action would be considered blatant fraud, because the operator would be advertising a specific phone model, while in reality, the phone model being advertised in reality has more or better features than the one sold to you under it's name by the operator.

Re:Honest question (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539704)

Simple answer. The congress is owned by corporate interests in this country.

Re:Honest question (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30539706)

How we Americans deal with it (some of us anyway) is we hack the phone to tether anyway for free, and smile every time we use it.

Re:Honest question (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540304)

Amen. Mod parent up.

Because any state of affairs (3, Insightful)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539784)

in which we do not agree to be raped every hour on the hour by corporations is in fact socialism, and socialism we leave for the "evildoers."

Same reason we prefer the poor to starve and the sick to have no medical care.

Re:Because any state of affairs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540090)

Oh brother...

There are countries where the poor do starve and where the sick really do go without care because there is none. That country is not the United States. The politicians desperately need us to believe that people are dying without medical care so that they can pass their legislation, but of course such persons (including illegals) get wonderful, free care in emergency rooms. There is need for reform, but not that way. Fortunately recent polls show that the mainstream populace are no longer playing suckers to these fools.

As for the phone companies, they "get away" with what they do because most Americans simply don't care or aren't annoyed enough to do anything about it. Even those of us here on Slashdot complaining will still keep on paying our monthly phone service bills. We complain about it, but the truth is we obviously value the service enough to keep paying for it, even though we may not enjoy paying the bill since most of us see it phone service as a need. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with any of this. If we ever got to the point where we didn't value the service above the cost we payed, we would simply not pay it.

Re:Because any state of affairs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540712)

There are countries where the poor do starve and where the sick really do go without care because there is none. That country is not the United States.

Yeah, no one starves to death in The United States, and no one has died in the US from lack of medical care. Actually, the truth is that you're so full of crap they can smell you in Canada.

Re:Because any state of affairs (1)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540294)

Same reason we prefer the poor to starve and the sick to have no medical care.

How else are we going to fight poverty?

Re:Honest question (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540060)

The thing that Europeans always forget is that the U.S. is more like the E.U. than it is like Finland. Actually, many Americans make the same mistake. When Europe becomes a single cellular market the way that the U.S. is, we will be able to compare the business practices of the providers.

Re:Honest question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30541376)

And the problem with this argument is that then we'd surely see regional cellphone operators covering at least one state with near 100% geographic coverage like Finland and Sweden have, and have unlimited mobile broadband at least in that state. But they're nowhere to be seen.

Hell, if anything, being able to operate anywhere in the USA should bring a lot of benefits in terms of being able to provide good network coverage in places that aren't otherwise economically feasible (you know, subsidizing). But on the contrary, coverage is bad in rural areas *and* cities, and service is bad no matter what major carrier you pick. Why?

Milestone vs. Droid (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540080)

Why do you, Americans, put up with your mobile operators specifically disabling features (like tethering or bluetooth) on phones being sold via contracts?

Because we get such a deep "discount" on the handset. Ideally, a 24-month plan with a $175 ETF would have a $7.50 per month discount if I bring my own phone, but the carriers offer no such discount. Besides, the CDMA carriers (Verizon and Sprint) don't use CSIM cards.

the operator would be advertising a specific phone model, while in reality, the phone model being advertised in reality has more or better features than the one sold to you under it's name by the operator.

Not necessarily. The standard unlocked GSM phone is sold under one name, and the carrier's version carries a slightly different name. For example, Motorola Droid is Verizon's customized version of Motorola Milestone.

Re:Honest question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540772)

I don't have an answer to this. but PERHAPS it's the same reason they put up with lobbying which in most contries would be known as bribery.

My guess is, answer one question and you can answer the other.

Re:Honest question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30541820)

It's because our lawmakers' clients (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc....) are much more organized and powerful than the American public. We are corporate America's bitches, and they know it.

Average speeds are meaningless. (2, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30539716)

What matters to me is the performance I get from the tower I'm connected to at the moment I'm trying to use it. I don't give two shits if the tower five miles up the road is giving 1700/350kbps when the one I'm using is doing 100/300. And I don't care if the one that was giving me 100/300 on Friday afternoon is able to do 1500/320 on Saturday morning because I'm not there Saturday morning. I need their network to function wherever I happen to be at whatever time I need to use it.

more or less? (1)

johanatan (1159309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540038)

So, which is it? Was AT&T's network more or less reliable than Verizon's? And, is this really about reliability (or rather bandwidth)? I imagine reliability tests would be as painful as the coverage tests which you opted out of.

SHIT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540516)

IT RACIST FOR A We'll be able to BSD's codebase a super-organised incompatibilities by fundamental that should be Assholes, as they platform for the paranoid conspiracy fucking numbers, from one folder on has run faster writing is on The you got there. Or stand anymore, From one folder on parties, but here again. There are Battled in court, cans can become systems. The Gay GNAA (GAY NIGGER arrogaqnce was it a break, if One or the other cuntwipes Jordan paper towels to say there have conducted at MIT operating systems distributions Codebase became the time to meet

AT&T == Cherry Picker (3, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540558)

Here's the thing -- everyone knows Verizon has a much larger square-mile coverage than AT&T. Wide coverage is important to many people for many reasons. But to accomplish this, you must do less cherry picking. AT&T on the other hand, does not concern itself with wide coverage, but instead focuses on the investments that yield the highest return.

You can decide for yourself which strategy is better. As a customer, I prefer a company that favors customer satisfaction. That said, I am neither an AT&T customer nor a Verizon customer. I am a T-Mobile customer largely because it was convenient at the time and presently have no incentive to change... Sprint burned their bridge with me... I hated that I had to become angry and threaten to leave in order to get anything done with my account. While I am sure there is no shortage of horror stories about T-Mobile, I haven't had any myself.

Devil's Advocate (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540982)

Here's the thing -- everyone knows Verizon has a much larger square-mile coverage than AT&T. Wide coverage is important to many people for many reasons. But to accomplish this, you must do less cherry picking. AT&T on the other hand, does not concern itself with wide coverage, but instead focuses on the investments that yield the highest return.

What you call cherry picking, I call serving the densest markets first.

Isn't that better serving more customers in the end than the strategy of getting a wider blanket out?

Of course, that assumes the same capex outlay - and there's the problem, AT&T has not spent as much as Verizon in network upgrades over the last few years, frankly inexcusable given the influx of data-hungry iPhone customers they have received.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541208)

Verizon covers all the same areas as AT&T. Nice attempt at spin though.

Because they didn't use the iPhone (2, Interesting)

TroyM (956558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540684)

A big part of AT&T's problem is really that the iPhone's radio sucks. When tests are done using a different device, AT&T scores pretty good. I switched from AT&T (not the iPhone) to Verizon, and I don't see any improvement in call quality.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/business/13digi.html?_r=4&ref=technology [nytimes.com]

Re:Because they didn't use the iPhone (1)

Ender_Wiggin (180793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541442)

It's not a problem with the iPhone's radio. The problem is that AT&T segregates iPhone data from the rest of the network and locks it at a certain percent of the network traffic. I suppose it's so that the data-hungry iPhone users don't make the network crawl for everyone, but the downside is that iPhone users get screwed with dropped calls etc.

Statistics not valid on small numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30541162)

You can't make any real conclusions with so small a sample size especially considering the too-many-variables-anyway context. For a sample size of 12 in this case, 4 is the same as 6 because the noise buries the signal.

You can't DO statistics on small numbers like this, not with so many variables taking part in the show.

Interesting test, but the result is a tie within reasonable limits of error. This ain't a horserace where you can "win by a nose".

As much as AT&T is bashed, they're not too bad (2, Informative)

jht (5006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541420)

At least here in metro Boston (and Eastern new England in general) I've had pretty good luck with AT&T since the latter part of 2008 - about six months after the iPhone 3G came out my service improved a lot. Most of my old dead spots are gone now, and there are places where my iPhone 3GS works well (like the client in Gloucester I was at today) and my colleague's Verizon Blackberry dies. Data speeds are very good anywhere I get 2 or more bars of service, and though there are still dead spots (eastbound on 128 through Manchester, for instance, anytime after dark) or Devereux Beach in Marblehead) they are far fewer than they ever were before.

On the other hand, my sister and her husband both went to iPhones this year in southern CT and they were much happier with Verizon's service. I don't visit them too often but I haven't noticed any issues when I've been there - I think it really depends on how much you use it and rely on it in a place.

Overall, using an iPhone's been a much better experience than my old Verizon Treo 700p provided - not only is it far more useful as a device, but I don't have to reboot it several times daily. The AT&T experience outside the coasts and major metro areas may be different, but mine's not bad. And the few times I've needed to call customer service they've been helpful.

Odd, but I'm not complaining!

Gizmodo? Those things are dangerous. (1)

Shinmizu (725298) | more than 4 years ago | (#30541556)

You'd better not feed that thing any bandwidth after midnight.
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