Well the numbers are in folks, and we’re pretty surprised to reveal that AT&T’s 3G network might not be the travesty many thought it was. Don’t get us wrong — it is in fact abysmal in countless areas across the country. According to results recorded by our readers however, it’s also pretty solid in many areas. Some quick background: Yesterday, we posted about how terrible AT&T 3G is for us in the NYC area. We then asked readers to let us know where they are, what phone they’re using and results of an AT&T’s 3G speed test. Many complied — so why not take a look at the numbers?
Since the iPhone 3G was released over a year ago, AT&T customers in many regions have experienced the slow and painful decay of what had once been an incredibly solid 3G network. The bottom line is that AT&T’s network is now so congested in many populated regions that it’s become a sick, laughable joke. Now, don’t get us wrong. In many areas AT&T’s 3G service is still rocking and rolling according to countless subscribers — we just wish we could find those areas. Here in and around NYC, continued woes have prompted us to perform several speed tests over the past few weeks to get a handle on exactly why calls are constantly dropped (if they’re even connected to begin with) and why data seems to be moving at a snail’s pace. The screenshot above shows the results of one such test. Arrows and cheeky thumb’s up aside, the image is not doctored. 38… kilobits… per… second… average… download… speed. Imagine a carrier with the cojones to advertise “the nation’s fastest 3G network” when even one speed test result could be that abysmal.
AT&T continues to boast of “the nation’s fastest 3G network” while many customers in various regions across the country seem to think differently. Dropped calls, outages, network congestion and general reliability issues continue to plague the carrier’s 3G network but today we have some good news for those of you currently with AT&T. According to one of our ninjas, AT&T is set to begin a rolling launch of its Network Settings (N-SET) Solution across all networks in the US. The roll out will begin this month. N-SET will balance traffic between the carrier’s 2G and 3G networks, thus reducing the load borne by its 3G network. Essentially, a customer who primarily uses voice services will connect via 2G even if 3G is supported by his or her handset. If and when said customer begins to actively use data services, the network will bounce him or her over to 3G. BlackBerry Bold and iPhone 3G users will not be affected by the change. Assuming all goes according to plan, N-SET stands to have a pretty immediate impact on network performance by freeing up 3G bandwidth for heavier data users. Whether or not it will be enough to impact urban and populated areas — especially once the new iPhone is released this Summer — remains to be seen.
As anyone following at attendee or two of South by Southwest 2009 on Twitter can attest to, AT&T’s network down in Austin Texas is completely hosed. The tweets speak for themselves; Dropped call number 833, AT&T’s data network is down again, ^*%)*&%^)% AT&T!, and so on. Apparently the complaints aren’t isolated to Twitter as AT&T has responded publicly to the situation and stated that it intends to address its troubled network by upping capacity immediately. In fact, it expects the improvements to be felt already today:
To accommodate unprecedented demand for mobile data and voice applications at SXSW, we are actively working this afternoon to add capacity to our cell sites serving downtown Austin. These efforts are ongoing, but we anticipate that customers should see improved network performance this evening and for the remainder of the event. We will continue to monitor network performance throughout the event, and will do everything possible to maximize network performance throughout. We apologize to customers who were inconvenienced during this surge in local network demand.
Wow. If it’s that easy, AT&T, how about doing something about the disaster your 3G/3.5G network in the New York Metro area has become?