|by Rob on July 28th, 2008|
With the launch of the iPhone 3G on AT&T, everybody is talking about the coverage and speeds of 3G networks and how they compare between carriers. AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are all making claim to the 3G throne saying their network is bigger, faster and stronger. How do the arguments stack up?
AT&T 3G Network
First of all, lets start with the AT&T’s 3G network, which has so little pop it couldn’t punch its way out of a wet paper bag. Sure the iPhone 3G is fast, but what good does it do if you don’t have access to the 3G network in your area but still have to pay for the speeds? Wall Street Journal tech expert Walt Mossberg, an admitted iPhone fan, thinks AT&T’s poor 3G Network coverage really drags the product down:
The blue patches below represent areas where AT&T’s 3G service is available:
Don’t let the idea that they are “expanding” to 350 markets by the end of the year fool you. While the current map looks like it reaches maybe 50 markets… you might think they’re adding about 300. But in reality, the map above shows their current reach of about 300 markets and they are only adding 50. So, it won’t be growing all THAT much.
Meanwhile, Mark Siegel, Executive Director of Media Relations for AT&T had this to say: “We have the largest network anywhere.” Right… and the iPhone 3G has great battery life.
Verizon Wireless 3G Network
Compare AT&T’s 3G coverage with that of Verizon Wireless and you might be surprised (click to enlarge):
You’ll notice Verizon’s 3G Coverage area in light blue and it DOMINATES the dark blue AT&T areas. The map was created by Winterspan on the MacRumors forum but was composed using data from each carrier’s website – so its legit information.
Verizon Spokesman Tom Pica put some numbers behind the image, saying the carrier measured its 3G coverage in potential customers covered, and counts 245 million within its 3G service boundaries. Not bad… not bad. Sprint – what do you have to say for yourself?
Sprint Nextel 3G Coverage
Sprint went The Price Is Right on us, doing the equivalent of letting all the other contestants go first and then bidding $1. That’s right, it appears Verizon beats AT&T and Verizon has 245 million within 3G coverage so I’m sure you can guess…
Yup, Sprint said they can reach 246 million. They might as well have said, “Oh yeah, well our 3G network is infinity times infinity!”
Apparently, Sprint Nextel could be including 3G capabilities of Alltel from a roaming agreement the two signed. While it would technically fall into the “allowable” nature of 3G coverage, we all know that Big Red is in the process of purchasing Alltel so even with this half-way cheating advantage, it won’t last for long.
According to our own personal opinion and calculations, Verizon wins the 3G coverage battle. However, consumers should check what carriers have the best coverage in THEIR area – afterall, thats what counts for you, right?
Remember that T-Mobile is rumored to be launching 3G service come October 1st or soon thereafter, but we wouldn’t expect them to approach the capabilities of the above three.
And don’t forget that ALL of these carriers already have their eyes on 4G networks, coming in the form of technologies known as LTE and/or WiMax. So… if you thought things were sticky now… just wait!