4G Speed Tests

4G Wireless Speed Tests: Which Is Really the Fastest?

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T-Mobile Walks the Walk

T-Mobile began to brand its HSPA+ network service and phones as "4G" this year. Its ad campaign promoting the offering--you know, pretty girl, polka dots, poking fun at AT&T--has been hard to avoid. But our test results show that the carrier has been spending its money on far more than ad campaigns.

In short, T-Mobile's network is fast--far speedier and more reliable than it was just a year ago--and is indeed pumping out speeds that are competitive with the 4G services of the other providers. T-Mobile scored the fastest download speeds in our smartphone tests, and took a respectable second place behind Verizon Wireless in our laptop-modem tests.

T-Mobile more than tripled its download speeds in our smartphone tests since last year. In our smartphone tests using the T-Mobile HTC G2, we measured a 13-city average download speed of 2.3 mbps. T-Mobile's 13-city average a year ago (testing on an HTC G1) was 0.72 mbps. In Denver and Seattle, our T-Mobile phone averaged download speeds of more than 3 mbps. We were able to achieve a connection speed of more than 2 mbps in 52 percent of our tests.

Upload speeds also rose dramatically from last year, improving from a 0.134-mbps average last year to almost 1 mbps this year. The T-Mobile network produced average upload speeds above the 1-mbps mark in five of our testing cities: Baltimore, Boston, New York, Orlando, and Seattle.

T-Mobile also scored very well, and improved considerably, in our laptop-modem tests. The network averaged almost 3 mbps for downloads, with average results nearing the 4-mbps mark in New York, Orlando, and Seattle. Overall, T-Mobile's download speed in our 13 testing cities grew 226 percent from last year's (very 3G-like) 0.87-mbps average speed. Latency times averaged 173 milliseconds, not high enough to disrupt services like HD streaming video, but enough to degrade VoIP call quality slightly.

T-Mobile's competitors say that the HSPA+ technology it uses is not really 4G as T-Mobile claims. That may be technically true, but T-Mobile has proven that through systematic software enhancements it can deliver speeds that are competitive with the 4G networks of its rivals. Given the near-term upgrade path of HSPA+ technology, T-Mobile will likely be able to continue doing so for the next few years.

“PC World’s nationwide network test is more validation to how T-Mobile is delivering the fastest 4G smartphone performance on the market today,” said T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer, Neville Ray.

Next page: AT&T's HSPA+ network delivers 4G-like results, but the growth of data speeds is slowing

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