Sunday, January 30, 2011

AT&T's "4G" Network Is Nothing To Write Home About

I inherited Mom's 3G iPad last week as she waits for iPad 2 with the better resolution and frontal camera so that she can conduct video chats for work and with friends. I have been using a Wi-Fi only version and more recently, bought an. iSpot for use with it to get the wireless Internet access.

And while ATT prides itself on having the fastest 3G network in the United States, I cannot be sure if that means much. And here is why.

In one day's use and based on past experiences with ATT in the past and with T-Mobile's own network and now Clearwire's WiMax service, I am in a good position to pass a long a few conclusions.

Today, WiMax is excellent if you can get it. It is wicked fast. I consistently get about 4.5 Mbps. When T-Mobile turned on their HPSA+ network last year, I went from about 1MBps on the Android G1 to about 3 Mbps. And my understanding is that things have vastly improved by quite a bit. We could be looking at speeds up to 20 Mbps by the end of 2011.

These two current scores are in contrast with an average of 2 Mbps that I am getting on the 3G iPad. There was about three bars.

However, all the speed on the world means nothing if you can't good signals. And while I might be able to see a couple of bars, I can't say that I am happy with the 3G speed from AT&T. On the iPad, I am still unable to get anything close to the WiFi signal through the iSpot or the G1 acting as a MiFI versus just the 3G on Ma Bell.

I still don't understand why that is the case. This is something that I'll probably need to get Dave the Mobile Warrior to chime in on this.

And this is a huge deal going forward. Presumably, the next iPad may have native wireless access to Verizon's CDMA network along side AT&T. Unless it is able to somehow shorten the latency time or flip a switch to boost signal, it will not matter if users cannot access AT&T's HSPA+ speed running 14-21 Mbps while the slower CDMA networking running 1-2 Mbps is accessible by users on the same area.

Trust me, Verizon will be going after potential iPhone switchers from AT&T. A side-by-side comparison of signal strength could be just what Verizon is eagerly waiting for.

-- Post From My iPad

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