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Report: Verizon Wireless’ LTE scores fastest network

Tue, 06/19/2012 - 3:08pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Verizon Wireless' LTE service is the fastest in the country, according to the latest tests from PC Magazine, and AT&T is crying foul over the results.

The publication's annual test found that while AT&T's LTE network tended to outpace Verizon's on download speeds, Verizon beat AT&T by a mile on upload speeds.

Across nationwide markets, Verizon's LTE network had an average download speed of 8.9 Mbps, slower than AT&T's average LTE download speed of 13.7 Mbps. But on the upload side, Verizon scored average speeds of about 6.5 Mbps, with AT&T coming in at just 2.9 Mbps.

The slow download speeds lowered AT&T's overall score, and Verizon came out on top.

That's where AT&T disagrees.

AT&T claimed in a statement published by PC Magazine that the publication's testing app has a "technical flaw that understates our 4G LTE upload speeds when a particular version of the Android software is used."

"This flaw disparately affected AT&T's upload and overall results," AT&T said, calling the test's conclusions "inaccurate."

PC Magazine said AT&T was "highly involved" in the testing process and that it used "well-established testing software." All of the smartphones used in the tests of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA ran Android 2.3 instead of a newer version of the operating system.

"It appears that consumers may see faster upload speeds with different versions of the Android operating system," PC Magazine said.

The tests used Android 2.3 smartphones with dual-core Cortex-A9 processors and the fastest modem offered by the carrier. Software from Sensory was installed on the phones to glean information on connection speeds.

The methodology allowed PC Magazine to give each operator an even playing field during the testing process. AT&T smartphones used in the tests included the Samsung Galaxy S II and its LTE-capable Samsung Galaxy Note. For Verizon, the tests ran on the Motorola Razr Maxx, which is compatible with Verizon's CDMA and LTE networks.

The test spanned 30 cities across the country, ranging from New York City to San Francisco. Verizon won speed tests in 19 cities, AT&T came out on top in 10 cities and T-Mobile USA scored highest in suburban markets.

Verizon's LTE network is available in nearly 260 markets, more than six times the approximately 40 cities covered by AT&T's LTE network.

Aside from the dispute over testing methodologies, PC Magazine also got access to Sprint's LTE network, which has yet to make its commercial debut. Tests found that Sprint's LTE network will be able to compete with AT&T and Verizon, but that it isn't quite as fast as its larger competitors.

Sprint’s LTE service is expected to light up in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Kansas City, Kan., this summer.

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