We're at a point where connectivity knows no bounds. Whether it's in the car (parked, I hope), at a local store, or at the gas station, we expect to have some level of connectivity to browse the web and take care of our day-to-day tasks. Smartphone and data penetration are at incredibly high levels, and as seen by AT&T this week, carriers are beginning the migration to a tiered data system. We're entering a time where "data" is the new "anytime minutes;" a time where unlimited minutes will become the norm and price plans will be structured depending on users' data habits.
PC Mag has just concluded their yearly mobile broadband study based on results from 18 cities, and as always, the numbers are quite interesting. In their "Fastest Mobile Networks 2010" test, AT&T took the nationwide prize and won regional awards in the Southeast, Central, and West regions of the United States. T-Mobile took the top prize in the Northeast region, due largely to their HSPA+ and HSPA 3G networks. Sprint's 4G coverage appeared to be spotty in certain cities, though at 9.1 Mbps (in Atlanta), it offered the fastest single connection in the study. Verizon appeared to be consistent across the board, though 3G speeds were often in the bottom bracket of scores.
Before the flame war starts, it's important to note that they didn't test voice quality or dropped calls; instead, they focused on data alone:
"We didn’t test voice quality, dropped calls or coverage areas; while those are very important measurements, these tests were all about mobile Internet. We ran approximately 1,000 rounds of tests (totaling more than 10,000 individual tests) in 20 cities."
While the test didn't factor in voice quality or dropped calls, the results are quite interesting, and they add fuel to AT&T's "fastest 3G network" claim. Check out the full PC Mag study here, and tell me - how have your experiences been in your respective cities?