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The nation's fastest 3G network… Part 2

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 6:23PM EST

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?

After going through the comments and weeding out speed tests from other networks and chatter, we were left with about 200 results as of just after 11:30am this morning. Readers posted from all around the country using a variety of different phones. Generally, the bulk of the results came from iPhones and BlackBerrys, and locales were in and around major cities for the most part. Here’s what we found:

  • Average download speed: 933kbps
  • Median download speed: 840kbps
  • Average upload speed: 180kbps
  • Median upload speed: 215kbps

As you can see, things might not be so bad after all. An average download speed in the mid-900s is actually pretty respectable, comparatively. Upload speeds are a disaster on the the other hand, but we know they’re limited for the time being so not much can be done there.

Truth be told, we were blown away by some of the results. Several users posted download speeds above 2,000kbps with the fastest result skewing our data a bit at 3,663kbps (from Austin, TX) [UPDATE: the commenter who posted this result made a mistake, as pointed out below (he was on Wi-Fi). The numbers have been updated with his 3G speed test results]. Speaking of skewing, we did notice that the median download speed was noticeably lower than the average speed, so we decided to trim the results a bit and see what would happen:

  • Average download speed, top and bottom five results discarded: 920kbps
  • Average download speed, top and bottom 10 results discarded: 914kbps

Dropping the top and bottom 10 results delivers an average speed that is slower by almost 20kbps. Long story short, there were definitely more people on the low end of the spectrum than on the high end.

So in the end, what have we learned? There are areas where AT&T’s 3G service is definitely solid. There are even areas where it’s blazing fast. Unfortunately, it looks like there are many more areas where the carrier’s 3G service is less than adequate — we had several results in the double-digits which is flat out atrocious. People complain far louder than they praise of course, so until AT&T can step up its game in major cities where service is lacking we’ll continue to hear about how bad things are far more often than we hear about how good they are.

As for the iPhone 3GS actually seeing anything close to 7.2Mbps any time soon… Yeah, we’re not holding our breath.

Here is the data, if anyone else wants to play with the numbers. [Updated data now available]

Disclaimer: The results of these tests are not collected in a controlled environment and therefore should not be considered to represent a concrete indication of the above carrier’s 3G network speeds and/or performance in general. These results merely provide the average 3G network speeds of the above carrier as experienced by those readers who perform speed tests and share their results. Stop whining.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.

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