smart-phone-3GFor the mobile attorney, a reliable 3G connection will trump a speedy 3G connection every time. Besides, the real-world difference between 3G networks is negligible. Unfortunately, independent research on reliability is scant, so PC World recently took a single-day, real-world snapshot of the performance of the three biggest 3G networks in the U.S.: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint.

For the test, PC World used industry-accepted testing technology and techniques. So whose 3G network reigned supreme?

Verizon Wireless demonstrated a good mix of speed and reliability. Across more than 20 testing locations in each of the 13 cities we tested, Verizon had an average download speed of 951 kbps. Verizon demonstrated good reliability, too; the network was available at a reasonable and uninterrupted speed in 89.8 percent of our tests.

Sprint’s 3G network delivered a solid connection in 90.5 percent of our 13-city tests. Sprint’s average download speed of 808 kbps across 13 cities wasn’t flashy (at that speed, a 1MB file downloads in 10 seconds), but dependability is an important asset. The Sprint network performed especially well, both in speed and in reliability, in our test cities in the western part of the United States.

The AT&T network’s 13-city average download speed in our tests was 812 kbps. Its average upload speed was 660 kbps. Reliability was an issue in our experience of the AT&T system: Our testers were able to make a connection at a reasonable, uninterrupted speed in only 68 percent of their tests.

Surprisingly, the testers at PC World found that “bars of service” phone readings were in no way correlated with 3G reliability. Considering the poor service records of Sprint (and the fact that their dwindling customer base and concomitant reduction in network load are probably responsible for the reliability and speed advantages over AT&T), Verizon Wireless seems to be the 3G network of choice for an attorney on the go.

A Day in the Life of 3G | PC World

1 Comment

  1. Karalyn says:

    I had a Sprint Aircard in SoCal for 3 years and never had a problem connecting reliably. When I left SoCal in my RV I switched to a Sprint USB connection device and have connected easily and well during all my travels. I find my connection as fast as I had with cable internet in SoCal. I connect even when others can’t. I seldom have interruptions. While I’m not fond of Sprint’s billing practices, prior experience with Verizon was just as bad. I don’t think any of the cell phone companies have stellar records. I do agree that the bar code on your cell phone is seldom a reflection of the viability of the internet connection.

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