AT&T tops in 3G wireless speeds, study finds

Study does not undermine Verizon's claims of AT&T's overall 3G coverage gaps

Although AT&T has been taking a pounding lately from Verizon ads and from customer satisfaction surveys, a new study suggests that the carrier can take solace in the fact that its 3G wireless network is the fastest in the nation.

Although AT&T has been taking a pounding lately from Verizon ads and from customer satisfaction surveys, a new study suggests that the carrier can take solace in the fact that its 3G wireless network is the fastest in the nation.

The study, issued by network performance monitoring start-up Root Wireless, shows that in areas where AT&T has 3G wireless coverage it is faster than any of the other major U.S. carriers. Root Wireless conducted the study by testing out 3G connectivity in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and it found that AT&T's average 3G downlink speed beat out Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile in all seven markets.

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Overall, AT&T's average 3G data speeds ranged from a low of 246Kbps in New York and a high of 428Kbps in Dallas. Verizon, meanwhile, had average 3G speeds ranging from 195Kbps in Seattle to 259Kbps in Chicago. The study also found that both carriers had comparably low rates of 3G connectivity failure, as each carrier's connection failure averaged between 1% and 3% for all seven cities. Sprint fared poorly in this particular category, as the carrier experienced data connection failures of 11% or higher in all seven markets.

But while the study does contain good news for AT&T, it does little to invalidate Verizon's attack that AT&T's 3G network is primarily confined to major metropolitan areas and does not extend to most geographical areas in the United States. Additionally, the study does not address the poor customer satisfaction rankings in terms of voice quality and customer service that AT&T received in a recent Consumer Reports survey.

Even so, the results of the study are welcome news for AT&T as the company has been on the defensive over Verizon's ads attacking its 3G coverage. Verizon's "There's a Map for That" ads typically show AT&T users struggling to use applications on their mobile devices while Verizon customers happily watch live streaming videos. The ads then display maps that show the total geographical reach of 3G coverage for each carrier, with Verizon's map showing a far larger area of the country covered by its 3G service. AT&T unsuccessfully tried to sue Verizon in an attempt to get the ads dropped from the air.

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