According to a recent poll on, people were quick to indicate that they believe Verizon will have the best 4G network in the USA in 2011. A very recent and fairly comprehensive benchmark held across 13 different cities says otherwise. While AT&T doesn’t necessarily  have a reputation for being the most reliable network in many markets, AT&T was tested to be the most highly rated network in a recent comparison by PC World.

At each testing location, PC World and its testing partner Novarum, connected to the 3G network via both laptops and smartphones.

According to PC World:

“The laptop tests accurately measured the capacity and performance potential of a given network, while the smartphone tests approximated the real-world connection speeds users of these popular devices might experience, given the less-powerful processors and 3G radios that the devices contain.”

Pretty comprehensive and accurate for sure.

This being said, it’s important to remember that a person using AT&T in New York won’t receive the same wonderful coverage as their Atlanta counterpart.  AT&T’s rapid improvement over the past 8 months has demonstrated that the company is putting their money where their mouth is – and is finally getting serious about competing with the ever-flush Verizon.

AT&T spent tens of million improving their 3G coverage in the markets PC World tested in. New York City and San Francisco – places that are known for their bad coverage – saw download speeds increase significantly: over 300% and 40% respectively. AT&T also improved its average reliability from 68 percent to 94 percent.

  • PC World’s tests also suggested that while Verizon has performed well, it has also had a drop in network reliability. This is allegedly because of new smartphones like the Droid – which we find hard to believe.
  • T-Mobile’s 3G download speeds were competitive with Sprint and Verizon in most cities, and even reached 4G speed levels in New York.
  • All networks have plans to upgrade to HSPA+/ LTE to achieve 4G speeds in 2011.
  • The current technology employed by Sprint and Verizon (CDMA) makes it impossible for them to match AT&T’s HSPA speeds in certain locales like Baltimore, Boston, and New York.
  • Sprint is now apparently America’s most reliable 3G network based on PC World’s tests, but not without compromise: it isn’t fast. This being said, Sprint hasn’t upgraded its network to be as quick in most markets as it is in others.
  • T-Mobile got clobbered in the upload speeds department. They ranked last in 11 of 13 cities tested.
  • T-Mobile increased its 3G reach twofold, from 100 million people to 200 million

Via: PC World

Also, what network are you on? What has your experience been like so far?

Check out the comprehensive comparison for yourself:

Darcy LaCouvee
Darcy is the editor in chief at Android Authority. He follows the latest trends and is extremely passionate about mobile technology. With a keen eye for spotting emerging trends and reporting them, he works hard to bring you the best analysis, updates, and reports on all things Android. Darcy lives and breathes the latest mobile technology, and believes Android will be on a billion devices in the not too distant future.