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2013 U.S. Wireless Network Tests: AT&T Fastest, Verizon Most Reliable

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the tmobile-took-the-'at-least-they're-trying'-prize dept.

Wireless Networking 131

adeelarshad82 writes "For the fourth year running, PCMag sent drivers out on U.S. roads to test the nation's Fastest Mobile Networks. Using eight identical Samsung phones, the drivers tested out eight separate networks for four major carriers across 30 cities evenly spread across six regions. Using Sensorly's 2013 software, a broad suite of tests were conducted every three minutes: a 'ping' to test network latency, multi-threaded HTTP upload and download tests including separate 'time to first byte' measures, a 4MB single-threaded file download, a 2MB single-threaded file upload, the download of a 1MB Web page with 70 elements, and 100kbps and 500kbps UDP streams designed to simulate streaming media. Nearly 90,000 data cycles later, the data not only revealed the fastest networks (AT&T) and the most consistent (Verizon), but also other interesting points. The tests recorded the fastest download speed (66.11 Mbits/sec) in New Orleans and the best average in Austin (27.25 Mbits/sec), both for AT&T's LTE network. The tests also found T-Mobile's HSPA network to have the worst Average-Time-To-First-Byte, even when compared with AT&T HSPA network. Also according to the tests, Sprint's LTE network didn't even come close to competing with other LTE networks, to the point that in some cities its LTE network speed averaged less than T-Mobile's HSPA network speed."

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131 comments

Which one is more NSA-friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042285)

In light of recent leaks..

Re:Which one is more NSA-friendly? (1)

Nexus7 (2919) | about 10 months ago | (#44042433)

They're all NSA-compliant, but looks like T-Mo is doing its own snooping before getting the spooks into the loop (highest time to first byte).

Re:Which one is more NSA-friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043641)

Since T-Mobile is foreign owned it is not allowed to look at the requests, therefor no requests are submitted to them.

The highest time to first byte is just them fucking up.

Re:Which one is more NSA-friendly? (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 10 months ago | (#44044787)

Sprint is probably the least-interesting to the NSA. Their data service is so dysfunctional, not even criminals and terrorists will use them anymore.

Verizon does have the best coverage (2)

Lucas123 (935744) | about 10 months ago | (#44042343)

I don't like their service, pricing models or willingness to disclose my information to the prying eyes of the government, but in terms of mobile coverage, I guess you get what you pay for. And, I almost never drop a call.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#44042365)

And I don't like AT&T becauseCALL FAILED.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043965)

You missed the perfect setup for the classic "CARRIER LOST" trope.

Unless Slashdot has been working on some TDD/voice gateway thing instead of proper Unicode support or a sane mobile version of the site (WTF is with the new fail mobile version, amirite?)

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44042377)

I dislike their total ripoff practices.
To keep my plan I have to pay "full price" for the next phone. Yet, I get no discount. The full price is actually more than what they retail for if not bought from verizon.

Not to mention their inability to provided/allow timely updates for non-fruit devices. My next device will not be on their network.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (4, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 10 months ago | (#44042607)

I was looking closely at their month-to-month offerings, but their Android devices were all neutered versions of the contract versions. There is a lengthy process of converting an S4 or HTC One into a month-to-month phone but it requires a sacrificial lamb (a month-to-month device) and if Verizon catches wind of your rooting, you'll be dropped like a call on Sprint and be out the cash you spent on both devices.

I'm sticking with T-Mobile and my Nexus 4. HSPA is fast enough for my remote browsing needs and in most places I'm surrounded by WiFi anyway. I admit that they're not the most reliable or the fastest, but they are the most consumer friendly.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 10 months ago | (#44043361)

I'm on T-Mobile's $30/month prepaid plan with 100 minutes and unlimited data (the first 5GB at HSPA+ speed, after that it's 3G speed). Skype lets me avoid using my minutes while giving me HD quality audio.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 10 months ago | (#44044347)

They have no problem with you using skype? That's interesting, I thought carriers frowned on that practice.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043613)

What the hell? I have been dealing with wireless for literally decades, and never once has anyone been dropped from Verizon for rooting their phone. Please stop spreading FUD. Not to mention they don't even sell the HTC One. Now, if you're talking about ESN changing, yes. But rooting, no. And no, you don't need to do an ESN change to put a 4G LTE phone on a CDMA-only rate plan (such as prepaid or an MVNO like Page Plus). You don't even have to root. You just have to change ONE FLAG in the firmware, telling the device to look in the NVRAM instead of looking for a SIM for authentication. Add your ESN online, *228, and you're activated. ESN changing is illegal, and will get you kicked, but please don't spread the idea that rooted Android phones will get anyone kicked off of their service plan on Verizon (or any other US carrier, for that matter).

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 10 months ago | (#44043739)

I'm simply restating what was told to me by the Verizon customer service rep I talked to. In practice maybe they don't drop you, but they are legally allowed to.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 10 months ago | (#44044363)

I'm thinking they can't tell the phones are rooted. I have one friend that uses verizon and he rooted his 'droid. He uses it as a hotspot for his laptop which is in violation of the TOS but they apparently can't tell.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 10 months ago | (#44044901)

> if Verizon catches wind of your rooting, you'll be dropped like a call on Sprint and be out the cash you spent on both devices.

No you won't. Verizon might be evil control freaks, but not even THEY will terminate you just for rooting your phone.

That said, be aware that your likelihood of getting any phone not sold by Verizon to ever be fully-functional (especially EVDO and LTE), on Verizon is close to 'nonexistent'. People have occasionally found ways to reflash Sprint identical twins of Verizon phones with Verizon radio modems, but if you ever got a completely "alien" non-Verizon CDMA phone to do full-speed EVDO on Verizon, it would make headlines over at xda-developers.com. Radio modems are an entirely different beast from Android phones (which contain radio modems, but interact with them at arm's length).

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 10 months ago | (#44042641)

Why do you want to keep you plan? Grandfathered unlimited data? The "discounted" phone is supposed to be the carrot that keeps you on a two year contract, not the contract being the carrot for the phone purchase.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44042711)

Yup, grandfathered unlimited plan and far less minutes than they now offer.

The point is if I have to pay full price I want a discount. I will want a new phone when my contract expires so I will go elsewhere.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (2)

Cigamit (200871) | about 10 months ago | (#44042995)

I am in the same boat. Verizon is the only carrier to have coverage in my area, so switching isn't an option. They have been dangling the upgrade carrot in front of me since 2011 (when my contract was up), but I haven't upgraded yet. Switching to the cheapest new plan with only 1GB of data is $20 more expensive per month than my current unlimited plan (and thats after my Employee discount). So its technically cheaper in the long run for me to buy a new phone outright and keep the old plan considering they want to charge me $200 still for the "upgrade", then another $35 "upgrade fee", plus the extra $20 per month for less data.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44043065)

Where do you live that this is true?
I find it hard to believe there is no other carrier at all. Have you tried getting a phone from another carrier to try? They normally have some trial devices or ones you can get for X days and return if you do not like.

My contract expires in March and I am done with them then. It is actually more about lack of timely updates than money at this point. I hope VZW never gets another nexus device.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043849)

Where i live in montana there is two, AT&T and Verizon, but where i work is only Verizon, so i am in the same boat as OP. I have unlimited data, so i don't want to lose that, plus where i work is slightly out of tower range for verizon, so we have repeaters in the building, which make it roaming, so i cant go to prepaid as they don't work on prepaid. AT&T doesn't work inside the building because the repeaters on repeat verizon's cdma frequencies (that might not be true, it may be that its because we are on the edge of coverage and that's as strong as signal we can get with what we have, but i digress). So while there is one other option for me, its not really an option because of geographical limitation, and equipment at work.

So actually hope they do get another nexus device (kind of), i am actually fine with a nexus experience device and am hoping the One, or S4 or the new moto x (whenever it gets released) will be available for verizon that i can buy right from google, i dont care (id rather not but...) if I have to pay $650 for a phone if i can get one that works on verizon's network but keep it out of verizons hands.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (2)

Cigamit (200871) | about 10 months ago | (#44043989)

I live out in farm country in Central Texas, NW of College Station, E of Temple, SE of Waco. The closest small "town" is ~7 miles away, most of that is down a dirt road. Its 45m - 1h to any major city to go grocery shopping (ironic considering the food is grown out here) and I only have 4-5 neighbors within a 5 mile radius. I had Sprint when I moved out here, but after their agent looked at their map they let me drop my contract for lack of service without penalty. I switched to Alltel (where I got my unlimited plan) and then Verizon bought them out.

My closest neighbor has AT&T but the service is bad enough that he has to take most calls outside his house (not going to cut it when you work from home like I do). Their coverage map shows my area as "MODERATE: The areas shown in the light orange should have sufficient signal strength for on-street or in-the-open coverage, but may not have it for in-vehicle coverage or in-building coverage." Even that is really being over generous.

Last time my friend with TMobile came over, he had to stand on top of truck to get even any signal, but then couldn't successfully talk for more than a few minutes. He said he pretty much loses most of his signal 15 minutes outside of most major towns. Their coverage map shows my area as "Service Partner: Check your plan for speeds, no access for laptop sticks, tablets, etc..."

Even with Verizon, I get 1-3 bars depending on which side of the house I am on, rarely does a call drop, but there are times when my phone just never rings. 3G? I get dial speeds on it when it does work at all. Luckily there is a WISP near me for internet, even if they are super expensive ($150 for 3Mbps). To get a hard line ran out to my house they want to charge me by the foot, and its a long way.

It certainly is peaceful out here though, and I can look out my back window and know that I own everything I can see (or the bank does for the time being at least).

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44044265)

There are places like that. I live in southern Indiana and AT&T is the only carrier where I can get a signal from my house. If I hop in the car and drive for 5 mins, I can ger Verizon.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44044475)

I understand completely. I have Verizon and they make me ger every 5 minutes, too.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 10 months ago | (#44043195)

I dislike their total ripoff practices.
To keep my plan I have to pay "full price" for the next phone. Yet, I get no discount. The full price is actually more than what they retail for if not bought from verizon.

Not to mention their inability to provided/allow timely updates for non-fruit devices. My next device will not be on their network.

Sadly the only option to pay a "fair" price for your phone is with Tmobile, and as you can see in these tests, the way they give you this "Fairness" is by investing jack shit into their network. The Big 3 may be greedy, but they _are_ competing to have the fastest/widest network, just like we want them to. Now, I guess we can spend our time nitpicking the lack of choice in their contracts.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44043247)

Hell, if they did not delay updates by 3+ months I might even pay their insane charges. My Not A Nexus Galaxy Nexus was the straw that broke the camels back. I will be buying my phone right from the company selling them next time.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 10 months ago | (#44043373)

Hell, if they did not delay updates by 3+ months I might even pay their insane charges. My Not A Nexus Galaxy Nexus was the straw that broke the camels back. I will be buying my phone right from the company selling them next time.

From one certified geek to another, was running CyanogenMod or a similar AOSP based firmware really out of the question if the need is there? I spent a while doing this but eventually threw in the towel after realizing that it's just not that painful to have to put up with software that is months out of date. My Galaxy S3 with standard software does everything but "photosphere", is as stable as they come, and shipped a year ago with enough cpu/ram/flash to still handle any new app.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44043423)

That is not the point of a Nexus.

I run CM on some other device and love it. That defeats the purpose of my buying a Nexus though. I have no interest in being that far out of date, because of what should be a dumb pipe.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

TheSeatOfMyPants (2645007) | about 10 months ago | (#44045045)

Sadly the only option to pay a "fair" price for your phone is with Tmobile ...

Not true -- there's also Ting (a Sprint MVNO), which has similarly good pricing and great customer service.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

mea_culpa (145339) | about 10 months ago | (#44042629)

If my business didn't rely on reliable mobile coverage I would have left Verizon long ago. VoIP works surprisingly well on their LTE network.

Verizon does have the best coverage, but...... (1)

mendax (114116) | about 10 months ago | (#44042809)

As a long time Verizon Wireless customer I would have to agree. However, their hiring practices are illegal based upon what a friend's experience. I would not want to work for such an unenlightened and short-sighted company.

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage, but...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043987)

I would not want to work for such an unenlightened and short-sighted company.

Are you implying that they are anti-Buddhist?

Re:Verizon does have the best coverage (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 10 months ago | (#44044331)

It really depends on where you live and or work. At my house verizon is really flaky. AT&T is strong and raging fast. At work some places Verizon is better and some AT&T depending on which building I'm in. AT&T the company sucks but because nothing else works at my house I end up using them. The signal is good but the customer service is about a 1 out of 10.

Data Caps (5, Interesting)

asicsolutions (1481269) | about 10 months ago | (#44042353)

I did read the article.
I'm surprised part of the rankings didn't address this.
I have Sprint and I have used upwards of 8GB in a month, something prohibitive with another carrier.

Re:Data Caps (1)

fermion (181285) | about 10 months ago | (#44042499)

I have all three on various devices. Verizon on my iPad is often so slow as to be usable. I sometime have to go to my phone, which is on ATT, to get internet access. Verizon is often theoretically more available, but ATT often has better coverage. I just don't think that Verizon is worth the extra cost. My next tablet will probably not be Verizon.

I have Sprint through virgin mobile. The 'unlimited' data is nice, but the coverage data sucks. Also, it seems as the month goes on and I get up into multiple gigabytes, the service becomes less reliable. Also, when I renew for new month there always seems to be an issue with the renewal and reconnection. Out of the past 6 months, I might have had two good ones.

Re:Data Caps (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#44042791)

I have all three on various devices. Verizon on my iPad is often so slow as to be usable.

Use a terminal program with some buffering. It's not 1998 anymore.

Re:Data Caps (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44042545)

I think they referenced it in passing, but it probably didn't matter for the purposes of this article.

They may have had to use multiple accounts to avoid hitting the datacaps, but as long as those caps only resulted in
a bigger bill and not throttling it wouldn't affect the results.

Also, you are in the minority, as most users never come near their cap. Those like you probably all
choose Sprint for that very reason.

T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortune (3, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#44042357)

Seriously Verizon, $120+ for a basic data/voice plan?

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (2)

rsborg (111459) | about 10 months ago | (#44042529)

Seriously Verizon, $120+ for a basic data/voice plan?

Absent my equipment loans (ie, what a carrier subsidy should be - ie, limited duration, can pay of early to unlock completely, etc), I pay $110 for 5 lines. Each with it's own 500MB+tethering.

I get HD Voice on my iPhone5s (great for me and the wife to actually hear each other on the commute home), and unlike AT&T customers, I had Facetime over cellular for the past 2 months.

I used to pay around $100 for a single line on Verizon (wife paid same for AT&T).

The *only* downside is that data in very large buildings (museum, costco) can be literally zero. If you work in a large shielded building and don't have internal wifi, then you might want to reconsider - but that's what the test drive period is for. For all other things, tmobile has been about as reliable as either AT&T or VZ for a whole lot less and with better voice.

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#44042585)

Yeah, I was going to post the same thing, more or less. We've got four lines - we're paying $110 for that because I added 2GB/month to one of them.

AND if you happen to go over your bandwidth quota, you just get dropped to EDGE - it's slow, but you still have data access.

It is better than EDGE... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042769)

It's EDGE transfer speed, but you still connect through the HSPA network so the ping times are still the same... MUCH better IMO

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042663)

I get HD Voice on my iPhone5s

Wow, you got an iPhone 5s? Did you steal a prototype from Apple?

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (1)

tepples (727027) | about 10 months ago | (#44043579)

Wow, you got an iPhone 5s?

How to get iPhone 5s (fivez, not five ess):
1. Buy iPhone 5 for self
2. Buy iPhone 5 for spouse
3. Activate both on a single family plan

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (1)

sootman (158191) | about 10 months ago | (#44044763)

Yeah, I'm getting close to switching. With 3 smartphones on AT&T's old 200MB-per-month-per-line plan (and $15 each time you go over), 550 shared minutes, and unlimited texting, we're at about $155/mo. The T-Mo plan you describe (unlimited everything, 500 MB of 3G data+tethering, followed by EDGE speeds/no tethering when you pass that) is $50 for the first line, $30 for the second, and $10 for each additional. Plus some taxes and fees, and minus a discount for belonging to AAA, we could have all 3 lines for under $100/mo. The only downside: I'm testing them this month with an old iPhone 3G and I'm seeing EDGE as often as not. :-(

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (1)

garcia (6573) | about 10 months ago | (#44042837)

I have Verizon (I have had T-mobile and various rebranded AT&Ts over the years as well) and have found the Big Red to be the best overall for a few reasons:

- Coverage
- Data sharing
- Cost

I think my wife and I pay about $150 for our two lines which include unlimited voice and text with 4GB of data shared between us and our chosen devices.

AT&T was less money (about $130/month) however we had 450 anytime minutes/1000 night/weekend with rollover and no SMS plan. Being that my wife is using around 1000 SMSs a month, the cost savings from that alone is worth it.

Now, Verizon's 3G is noticeably slower than AT&T and while that doesn't matter much in the metro area where our primary residence is located as there is LTE, at our lake home (which has LTE about 500 feet outside of the cabin) we are stuck w/pokey 3G service that is comparable to the 1300/700 DSL service we get there.

For me I dropped more calls in dead zones with both T-mobile and AT&T than I have noticed w/VZW but the single biggest advantage Verizon has over any other carriers is coverage. I should NEVER, EVER, EVER have No Service show up along major interstates yet with both T-mobile and AT&T I did. I have never been w/o VZW service in the last year I've had it.

To me the $150/month is well worth it. YMMV.

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (1)

mendax (114116) | about 10 months ago | (#44042849)

Well, it depends upon what you want. I pay $50/month for unlimited voice/data/text with Verizon... but I don't use a smartphone. I use a plain ordinary Samsung pay-as-you-go phone at Target for $20 which included a $10 credit. It depends upon what you really need a phone for. I need a phone for voice stuff. When I want the Internet I use my MacBook. Who needs a smartphone or a pad when you have a portable REAL computer.

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043007)

I pay $50/month for unlimited voice/data/text with T-Mobile... for a smartphone. And I can use it as a mobile hotspot for my REAL computer. The only catch is it gets slow after the first 500 MiB, and having to change the user agent string to use hotspot from the computer.

Re:T-mobile the one that doesn't cost a damn fortu (1)

GoatCheez (1226876) | about 10 months ago | (#44043647)

Seriously Verizon, $120+ for a basic data/voice plan?

I'm on Verizon and I pay $100 a month for grandfathered unlimited data and a subsidized phone. I have enough minutes that I don't bother keeping track. I find it reasonable.

Sprint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042367)

is still the only major carrier with a true Unlimited Data plan.

Re:Sprint (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44042559)

Enjoy it while it lasts.

If I were homeless and had no wifi, and was addicted to porn that might matter to me.

Re:Sprint (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#44042595)

Nope, T-Mobile offers one as well.

And even with their limited plans, you don't have a cap - you just get throttled to EDGE speeds if you go above the cap.

Re:Sprint (2)

stephanruby (542433) | about 10 months ago | (#44044087)

Nope, T-Mobile offers one as well.

And even with their limited plans, you don't have a cap - you just get throttled to EDGE speeds if you go above the cap.

Which may be true for some peoeple, but in my case, whenever I get above the 2 GB threshold on T-Mobile, it takes me to edge, but then it's soo slow, everything and anything I try to use just times out (even email).

Now don't get me wrong, the Unlimited data plan for Sprint is also a lie. First of all, Sprint tacks on a dummy $10 premium data fee, which they don't mention when they compare their rates with their competitors in advertisements (the fact that the FTC or the FCC hasn't fined them for false advertisement is beyond me). Plus their 4G unlimited data used to be great in my home apartment, but then it got so bad, I couldn't even get 1 single byte of data even on 3G using their network (even thought, I never changed my home address, they're the ones who either became oversubscribed, or shut down towers in my area a year or two ago). Sprint should just have called their data plan the Unlimited Data Premium No-data plan, that would have been more truthful.

What is boils down to: (4, Informative)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 10 months ago | (#44042369)

AT&T - Fastest
Verizon - Reliable
TMobile - Cheapest
Sprint - Service

Re:What is boils down to: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042597)

Sprint.. service? I guess you're not a sprint customer.. they are nickle and diming everything right now trying to make themselves look more attractive for potential bidders.

Re:What is boils down to: (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 10 months ago | (#44042789)

Well, since they are still cheaper than everyone else and I get great service, I guess I can't blame them. If you know the right people to call (hint: don't activate in a store), you can get around many of those charges.

Re:What is boils down to: (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#44042623)

AT&T - Fastest
Verizon - Reliable
TMobile - Cheapest
Sprint - Service

And compared to European vendors...
AT&T - Slow. Expensive. Unreliable.
Verizon - Slow. Expensive. Unreliable.
TMobile - Slow. Expensive. Unreliable.
Sprint - Slow. Expensive. Unreliable. :(

Re:What is boils down to: (1)

LiENUS (207736) | about 10 months ago | (#44043411)

Arent the european networks avoiding LTE at the moment? so it should be
Compared to European vendors...
AT&T - Expensive. Unreliable.
Verizon - Expensive. Unreliable.
TMobile - Expensive. Unreliable.
Sprint - Expensive. Unreliable.

Re:What is boils down to: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44044351)

And for of us in Canada.

AT&T - Cheaper
Verizon - Cheaper
TMobile - Cheaper
Sprint - Cheaper

Re:What is boils down to: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042911)

Sprint - Service? Are you kidding me? Sprint has the absolute worst service of any company I have ever dealt with.

Re:What is boils down to: (3)

ImprovOmega (744717) | about 10 months ago | (#44044681)

That is a fact. I was willing to put up with Sprint's craptacular 2g network where I live, since I was mostly using it for voice at the time, but a handful of issues with my wife's phone and we packed up and went to Verizon. Lo and behold! Friendly service, no dropped calls, no weird echo-feedback on the line, competent 3g speeds, and once their share-everything plan came down the pipe, reasonable pricing! I will never go back to Sprint. What good is unlimited data anyway when your "4g" connection only lets you maybe download at 3g speeds anyway.

Re:What is boils down to: (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 10 months ago | (#44043283)

Last job we had AT&T. When I left and started my own company, Sprint was the only one with sensible deposit as I wasn't going to do a personal guarantee on advise of the attorney filing the incorporation paperwork. AT&T wanted $1,000 per line deposit and Verizon was $700 IIRC. Sprint was $150 per line (phone & mobile hotspot). I forgot about the deposit until my phone bill arrived this year and it had a negative balance. I had a year of good payment history and this year they credited those deposits. Furthermore my iPhone & Mobile hotpot was still $40 a month less than Verizon or AT&T's iPhone with tethering.

Is data speeds as fast, well the 3GS on AT&T I had was much faster than the 4S on Sprint's network. But the mobile hotspot is fast enough and comes in extremely handy it's saved the day a couple times before a presentation to clients.

And days like today where I'm meeting my fiancé for later for Spamalot at the Muny. So instead of being stuck in an office and slacking off on slashdot I'm slacking off on Slashdot from the Grand Basin in Forest Park St. Louis with a good parking spot.

Re:What is boils down to: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043395)

I've escaped from Sprint twice now.

The first time, I was a Nextel customer (worked in IT for a construction company and needed Nextel for its push-to-talk). Sprint bought them, service went to shit, and the iPhone came out, so I jumped ship to AT&T.

After ditching AT&T, I went to US Cellular. If you can get it, they have decent service. They peer with just about everyone, so you never really "roam", even though you're on someone else's tower all the time. Great customer service, decent phone service, and weird devices with radios tuned for a mish-mash of other companies' frequencies.

So, of course, Sprint bought them out in my area. They refuse to allow non-Sprint devices on their network for any reason. (This means you can't buy a Sprint phone on eBay or Craigslist and use it, which sounds like a crock of crap to me. I know people that do exactly this, even on Sprint, but they refused to bring our accounts over without a phone purchase.) During the change-over, my phone was on "roam" all the time, and would drop calls like a whore's drawers (often and for any reason).

I jumped ship to T-Mobile. There was no ETF due to the buyout. And T-Mobile knocked $150 off of my new phone in exchange for my old US Cellular phone in a buyback. (US Cellular phones will work with MetroPCS, which is owned by T-Mobile. I'm sure they'll make their money back.) To top it off, it's about $70/month cheaper than US Cellular, and over $100/month cheaper than Sprint was going to be. Compare it to AT&T or Verizon and that goes up to around $120/month cheaper.

The service has few, if any, dead zones where I am, and it doesn't drop my calls. That puts it on par with US Cellular, and utterly destroys network performance in my area from Sprint and AT&T. I've heard Verizon is up to the task around here, but I've never gotten a good enough price from them to make me consider trying it.

Re:What is boils down to: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043683)

what does service mean to you? I have sprint, I am counting down the days until I am no longer under contract. Low signal is a constant, calls are dropped, incoming calls go direct to voicemail, internet lags and is generally slow. I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area, and these issue are consistent in both major cities and every small city in between.

$45 /month Unlimited (2)

rea1l1 (903073) | about 10 months ago | (#44042407)

I use Straight Talk / Net 10 for $45 a month unlimited everything. I also regularly tether my devices to my phone and haven't had any issues. I've heard this service piggybacks on the major network's hardware , but I can't understand why the major networks would allow this - does anyone know?

Re:$45 /month Unlimited (1)

macromorgan (2020426) | about 10 months ago | (#44042517)

The terms of service for Straight Talk prohibit you from tethering, and they tend to get really cranky if you use more than 2GB of data (even though they say they are unlimited). Depending upon which type of SIM you grabbed when you signed up, you are either on AT&T or T-Mobile's network. Source: I used Straight Talk for a few months back in 2012 and found it to be a decent enough experience.

Re:$45 /month Unlimited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043037)

I am currently using simple mobile. Unlimited everything for $50 a month. Uses t-mobile can buy a phone or bring your own. I have used well over 2 gigs/mo no calls no reduction in speed at all. With straight talk I got a call within 10 days and was told to stop using so much data or my plan would be terminated. Virgin mobile just blew dropped calls and never had a reliable data connection.

Re:$45 /month Unlimited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042831)

Outside of the big 4, no one else has a nationwide cell network.. the next player that has a small network in "Home" cities is Cricket...

Every other carrier is what is called a MVNO

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_mobile_virtual_network_operators

I I will warn you... tether to much or start using more than 2GB data regularly and you will get told that you will not be renewed....

Re:$45 /month Unlimited (1)

bonehead (6382) | about 10 months ago | (#44043517)

You're leaving out US Cellular.

Most definitely not an MVNO, and in my neck of the woods they blow all of the big 4 out of the water in every aspect (aside from being beaten on price a little by Sprint).

I recently switched and now have solid LTE at several locations where my sprint phone had no service.

The Real Good News (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042493)

The drivers weren't running the tests. Software ran the tests while the drivers drove the cars.

bad time to be testing this (4, Informative)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 10 months ago | (#44042503)

T-Mobile's LTE roll-out is about to get serious, and they claim they'll have around 200 million people in the U.S. covered by the end of the year (with rumors of my beloved Seattle area getting it by the end of this month). Sprint's LTE roll-out is also chugging along.

The landscape will look very different by year's end.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#44042605)

I get T-Mobile LTE on UW's campus already.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 10 months ago | (#44042729)

Did you do a speedtest?

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#44043055)

Nope.

I tend to think of speed tests as largely pointless. When I'm connecting to some site or server, there are too many other culprits that can (and do) affect the transmission of data back and forth between my device and the remote one. It's not generally the network I'm on, unless I'm on EDGE.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 10 months ago | (#44043365)

Yes, but we'll be getting even faster wireless speeds on campus soon, that will make the LTE from both T-Mobile and AT&T look pitiful.

(caveat - I get the AT&T service)

Re:bad time to be testing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042755)

I thought T-Mobile was putting all their eggs into the HSDPA+42[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HSPA%2B_networks#U] basket.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

TheEyes (1686556) | about 10 months ago | (#44043679)

I thought T-Mobile was putting all their eggs into the HSDPA+42[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_HSPA%2B_networks#U] basket.

That was in 2010, before the failed AT&T merger. Now T-mobile is flush with cash and spectrum, thanks to a billion dollar breakup fee from AT&T, and has started to rapidly deploy LTE across the country by refarming their 1700 MHz HSPA network to the 1900 band and using the freed up 1700 band for LTE (aka Band 4 LTE). Spectrum refarming, btw, is also what has given T-mobile enough 1900 MHz HSPA throughout the country to start selling the iPhone legitimately, as they can now gaurantee iPhone-compatible HSPA coverage in nearly all markets (iPhone can't communicate on the 1700 band.)

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

adeelarshad82 (1482093) | about 10 months ago | (#44043071)

the test is done every year

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 10 months ago | (#44043179)

the test is done every year

Nevertheless, right now, this year, it's an especially bad time for it, as it gives a very misleading idea of what's going on. Most years you don't see much change, but 2013 is going to be a big turning point.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#44043083)

The landscape will look very different by year's end.

This can be said at any point since the invention of the cell phone. These are the facts as of today, and those are the ones that matter in a purchasing decision.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 10 months ago | (#44043205)

The landscape will look very different by year's end.

This can be said at any point since the invention of the cell phone. These are the facts as of today, and those are the ones that matter in a purchasing decision.

Most years, the networks in the U.S. don't change that much. This year is HUGE, though, and basing a purchasing decision on things right now would be a gigantic mistake.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

TheEyes (1686556) | about 10 months ago | (#44043773)

The landscape will look very different by year's end.

This can be said at any point since the invention of the cell phone. These are the facts as of today, and those are the ones that matter in a purchasing decision.

Most years, the networks in the U.S. don't change that much. This year is HUGE, though, and basing a purchasing decision on things right now would be a gigantic mistake.

But again, the same could be said of any year, especially in recent memory. 2011-12 was when AT&T deployed most of its LTE network; any tests done then would be unfair to AT&T. 2008-09 was Verizon's time for LTE; same there. 2013-14 is T-mobile's turn, and 2015-2017 is when the real synergy effects from the T-mobile/MetroPCS merger, when the MetroPCS spectrum will be finally integrated into the T-mobile network.

Re:bad time to be testing this (1)

adolf (21054) | about 10 months ago | (#44043813)

Really?

About 20 years ago, people still sometimes had to use dialing codes to make a phone call to a cellphone. We had a list in the kitchen next to the telephone of some common ones. "I think Mom said she'd be in Cleveland today...let's try that one first."

This was AMPS, of course. Things have improved a bit since then.

Oh, and then D-AMPS happened. And CDMA2000 1xRTT. And EVDO. And 3G. And LTE. Coverage has gone from "it usually works if you're near a highway" to pretty much just being expected to work just about everywhere.

Overall, it has been a steady stream of improvements. This year really is no different. So LTE's being rolled out. Cool! But that's not so different than a few years ago, when 3G was being rolled out.

*shrug*

Sprint people are good, service is awful here (2)

Entropius (188861) | about 10 months ago | (#44042575)

Sprint is the only cellphone company that has treated me like a person. But -- here in Washington DC -- their service is garbage. It's so bad that I have to constantly ask voice callers to repeat themselves because of dropped frames. At home I have to pick up the phone with "Let me call you back on skype".

There is LTE service randomly in random places, but never consistently or predictably.

Re:Sprint people are good, service is awful here (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 10 months ago | (#44042689)

Cities are hard. Multipath distortion can cause very problematic handoff situations even when there's a moderately strong signal. This, in turn, can cause the sorts of glitches you're experiencing. My advice would be to complain to Sprint and ask if they'll set you up with a free picocell for your home. That should completely eliminate the problem.

BTW, if you think Sprint's glitch rate is bad, you should see how much worse AT&T is. Admittedly, I'm not in D.C., but at least here on the opposite coast, the difference is staggering. As I understand it, CDMA is much more resistant to dropouts than TDMA/GSM, so unless AT&T's tower density is on the order of 4x Sprint's tower density (half the mean distance), Sprint *should* have fewer problems, ignoring hardware bugs, deployment mistakes (high collision rate from nearby towers), etc.

And yes, their LTE service is still a long way from where I'd like to to be. Then again, they started out way behind (WiMAX being a dead end and all), so I'm willing to have a little patience. For now. :-)

Re:Sprint people are good, service is awful here (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 10 months ago | (#44042899)

It's that cities are hard, Sprint literally has no LTE coverage in DC...at all. They're busy rolling it out to great bustling places like Chattanooga, but not the fscking nations capitol. If you look at their coverage maps for the DC region, Baltimore is mostly covered, the I-81 corridor to the west is covered, south is covered, but DC and suburbs? Not a drip of anything decent.

Our contract is up in a couple months and Verizon is looking pretty good depending on the deal I can get. I'm happy to pay for service, Sprint needs to up its game in a big big way or it's going bye bye

Re:Sprint people are good, service is awful here (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 10 months ago | (#44044083)

I doubt LTE has anything to do with your voice call glitches. AFAIK, except for very limited testing by Sprint and T-Mobile, LTE is not used for voice calls by any of the U.S. carriers except MetroPCS. The reason for this is that (unless something has changed fairly recently) there's no mechanism for a call handoff from VoLTE/SRVCC to CDMA, so if you are using VoLTE, the moment you leave LTE range, you'd get a hard call drop. For this reason, you shouldn't expect widespread deployment of VoLTE until the LTE rollout is very nearly complete.

Re:Sprint people are good, service is awful here (4, Informative)

Isca (550291) | about 10 months ago | (#44042961)

Expect Sprint to get a lot better very soon.

On June 30th the nextel iDen network will be shut down. This operates in 5 mhz chunks in the lower half of the 800mhz range nationwide. In many rural areas they have already transitioned most of their services to the same range and have kept 2 chunks of frequencies in the 800mhz range for iden customers but in urban areas they still had a Million customers on iden as of May 1 and they can't convert any part of those frequencies over. Especially in DC with all kinds of government contracts.

Once these are shut down they can start freeing using that bandwidth for LTE or CDMA. In most areas of the country they have already preconfigured equipment to use the new frequencies after this shutdown happens and will be enabling this with just a software load on the new equipment.

AT&T ONLY IF.... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 10 months ago | (#44042621)

... The speed test is NOT YOUTUBE!!!

Re:AT&T ONLY IF.... (1)

Sedated2000 (1716470) | about 10 months ago | (#44043039)

That actually may be due to a caching service of their own rather than AT&T itself. Try surfing with a different DNS server, like Google or OpenDNS. Verizon had this problem too on FiOS and the only solution was to use a different DNS server. They finally upgraded their aging Youtube caching servers though.

BUT... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44042687)

If you put AT&T with Verizon, then you have the fastest and most reliable network for spying on YOU by the Obama administration.

Where I live (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44043781)

If you can even get a signal, you might get a couple of mbit on LTE or HSPA from either carrier. My county has onerous zoning restrictions on "commercial communications towers" that makes it nearly impossible to place them.

The top of the tower and highest antenna element cannot exceed HAAT, meaning towers can only be used to overcome being in a landscape depression. They are not allowed to be visible, yet they must be lighted 24/7 (strobes during day, red slow blink at night) to avoid being a hazard to the sleepy county airport that has at most one flight per day from the local crop duster. Communications antenna arrays CAN be placed on existing utility towers and water towers, but only if they do not cause the entire structure to be taller, and only if the arrays are not visible.

It's insane. The NIMBY busy-bodies that run this county have destroyed any possibility of getting decent cell service here in the name of beautification. Utility companies are not even allowed to place any new overhead wiring for new communities, or repair existing overhead wiring - as it must be replaced with underground wiring.

towers don't have the back end (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44044085)

Most cell towers still have a bunch of t1 if they are lucky all the t1 will work but most don't. Very few actually have a 0c-8 or something that can handle it because the CO doesn't have room for the equipment or the main trunks are all full. We might have made leaps and bounds in tech over the last 20 years but the phone lines that connects it has not been changed and fiber just cost too much to replace copper.

fastest vs most reliable (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 10 months ago | (#44044109)

Doesn't most reliable make your network the fastest? What's the point of having 20% extra speed if you lose 50% of the packets?

Reliability depends largely on the make and model. (0)

Mister Xiado (1606605) | about 10 months ago | (#44044725)

On AT&T, the reports of poor signal reception, dropped calls, and other service issues from iPhone users outnumber those from users of other phones by a clear order of magnitude, if not a greater amount. It's common to hear "AT&T sucks! Ever since I got the iPhone X, I can't make calls and I don't get voicemails!" People never seem to catch on to the fact that when three people in their hme have Android, Windows, BlackBerry, or other phones, and do not have service issues, and their iPhone does, it's probably the phone. Alas, this lesson must be learned one person at a time. When the iPhones first launched on Verizon, and people were unsurprisingly having service problems with them, Apple was dumping their calls onto AT&T support, claiming that it was AT&T's fault that iPhones made for Verizon were dropping calls and failing to establish data connections on Verizon's network. And people believed that.

I've even heard a live call where an Apple representative said, and I quote:

"Thank you for calling Apple, where we believe you should throw (your iPhone) in the garbage and get an Android!", after which he had hung up immediately. Alas, I was not permitted to make a copy of the recording for comedic use on the public internet.

Re: Reliability depends largely on the make and mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44044949)

My ass. I have dropped calls all the fucking time on my S3 with AT&T.

Sadly, I'm under contract.

Re:Reliability depends largely on the make and mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44045021)

I haven't had a dropped call with my iPhone 5 on Verizon since the day I got it; November, I think.

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