By Harry McCracken | Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:29 am
PCMag.com’s Sascha Segan has an ambitious and impressive story up based on tests of wireless data in eighteen cities. It’s similar in overall goals to the one that PCWorld published back in February. But this one has some twists of its own–it covers more cities and includes Sprint’s 4G network and regional carrier Cricket as well as the national providers.
As with the PCWorld tests, PCMag’s have AT&T as the clear overall winner, with download speeds that trounce everything but Sprint’s still-not-widely-available 4G network. AT&T didn’t do as well in the “Consistency” tests, however, which would tend to confirm the theory that AT&T’s 3G network is extremely zippy…when it’s working well. Still, I feel like everyone who declares that it’s a well-known fact that AT&T’s network sucks should be forced to read reports like this one.
To steal a meme from Tip O’Neill, all wireless networks are local–what’s most important is that your carrier work well in the areas you need it most, and performance can very literally block by block. PCMag’s San Francisco Bay Area results show AT&T winning for both download speed and consistency. My iPhone works just fine at home, but remains flaky to the point of being unusable–especially for voice calls, which PCMag didn’t test–in much of San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. (The story cleverly uses Google Maps to show the exact locations where tests were conducted, but doesn’t break out the results to that level of detail.)
What the world really needs is a way to get wireless speed and reliability data down to the Zip Codes you hang out in. Anyone know if there’s anyone out there trying to collect this data?