The gloves are coming off behind the scenes in an intra-staff carrier fight email exchange. The listserv’s overheating so I’m rolling this sucka over onto the site. It ain’t over just yet and we’re probably wrong about a lot of things so get in on the action!

On 1/13/2011 11:25 AM, David K wrote:

interesting read if anyone wants to post on it:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/how-at-t-and-t-mobile-conjured-4g-networks-out-of-thin-air/43577?tag=nl.e539

Doug Simmons:

AT&T claims they have HSPA+ rolled out to "virtually 100%" of their customers. Sound right to you? Does that mean no more EDGE everywhere? How about virtually everywhere? How is their HSPA+ supporting phone lineup looking? Nonexistent, no need for the word virtually.

Defining the next in the successions of G standards as being able to blast data around at 100mbps is absurd. File that under things that will never happen. So I believe this ITU body relaxed the definition to something like "anything that’s significantly faster than the previous thing." HSPA+ is substantially different than the other 3Gs. Believe me, I’ve been reading a whole lot about it, it’s no joke in terms of how much further they can take it and how long it will serve as a standard worthy of the 4G label, maybe even 5G in a few years.

IP-based like LTE, always-on, fast wake from idle times, much better battery life and I bet if I had a HSPA+ phone (mine’s not..) on me I’d get a reading that was at least on par with whatever Verizon comes out with their LTE. Some outfit with a Wikipedia saying if you want to say you’ve got 4G you’ve got to have a network where you can download a Blu-ray DVD in two minutes, that’s just bad for business, for everyone.

This ZDNET article is bullshit.

Moreover, T-Mobile’s working on something called HSPA +42, claims they’ll "launch" it sometime this year (at least five carriers around the world have already launched that). While that may not be LTE and in practice it may not have 42mbps throughput, I’ll bet any of you fifty bucks I’ll be able to go buy and use an HSPA+42 supporting device and be dazzled by its performance in my city before New Yorkers get the same juice but from AT&T and with LTE.

And then after I win that bet I’ll happily go double or nothing that T-Mobile’s setup in NYC, whatever it happens to be at the time AT&T debuts LTE in the city, defeats whatever AT&T’s got in throughput (and a sidebet for ping times if you want), whenever they get around to rolling it out along with LTE phones, not just a USB stick. From ZDNet:

This shows up when you look at the latency of these networks (LTE, WiMAX), which is typically 50-100ms (milliseconds) vs. 200-500ms for the enhanced 3G networks.

My T-Mobile ping times from my field testing thing, one thing this article knocks about HSPA+, are along the lines of 54ms in non-congested parts of Manhattan, 146ms was the worst I got which was in front of the NYSE during trading hours (where AT&T got 388ms). In no locations did AT&T have a better ping time and on average their latency was twice as bad as T-Mobile’s in each location I tested. I wasn’t using HSPA+, each phone had the same muscle and radio technology.

Aaron:

AT&T will have LTE in June/July in Sacramento so this is all null and void in my opinion. Btw it was the international telecommunications agency that said hspa± is 4G so both T-Mobile and att ran with it.  You can’t blame AT&T though.  If that’s what you want to call 4G then att has 4G as well. Makes sense from s marketing standpoint.

Ramon:

Fsck tmobile, Verizon too. Att going to show up with lte and big dick the industry!

Sent from my Windows Phone

Doug Simmons:

Declared timelines for carrier network upgrades are always nice to hear but let’s focus on right now for a moment.

Good to learn about AT&T kicking HSPA+ ass, already having HSPA+ available to (again to use their words) "virtually 99%" of their customers. So how many different phones are they selling that support HSPA+? Forget LTE, let’s just start with HSPA+. T-Mobile’s selling two top-shelf HSPA+ phones (more if you count the different colored MyTouches), plus some Dell laptop/netbook thing. And the requisite stick.

Regarding the LTE race, so AT&T’s got Sacramento nailed by the summer (because these deadlines always are met). One city with a pledged timeline. Verizon, they claim LTE’s ready to go in 39 cities in 22 states. They’re selling a USB stick and they’ve got the CES-announced HTC Thunderbolt on their website; word is it’s about to start selling in the next week or two.

I believe AT&T isn’t broke. Why have they made it part of their strategy to be years behind even one competitor in terms of infrastructure and technology advancements and implementation? Maybe that’s more profitable? Maybe they don’t care if Wall Street thinks they have no real growth potential?

Ramon:

No because they bought the largest most undeveloped part of the lte spectrum. This was a given from the announcement almost 2 years ago. When it is all said and done, att will have the stronger and more coverage of the two lte networks. So it means nothing that Verizon is out the gate first. Esp after they couldn’t even get the iPhone on the lte network. From where I stand, att is in great shape.

Murani:

Good point.  How does Verizon pump up the iPhone when they’ll have LTE compatible Android devices ready to go?

Ramon:

They don't....iphone is just a "me too" move. It means nothing to
Verizon. They spent and will continue to spend tons of money on
Android. At this point I have to believe they will be responsible for
androids future. The percentage of the iPhone cake Verizon will earn
is chump change to the returns they will get from Android. IPhone is
no longer revelant...esp not on Verizon.

Sent from my Windows Phone
Doug Simmons:

You don’t think that was Apple’s call?

Apple waited a refresh cycle to release a 3G iPhone even though 3G was widely available on AT&T in early 2007. Maybe they should have let the EDGE radios ride a little longer, particularly in NYC. Don’t want to get too crazy with their Verizon debut, probably want to learn more about the maturity and robustness, general reliability, of LTE whether it’s Verizon or AT&T’s. They may even wait for AT&T to have LTE ready, however long that takes, before they sell an LTE model as LTE changes a lot of things with respect to what you can give your consumers, from high-quality streaming with iTunes movies with HDMI outs or whatever to non-wifi Facetime.

Meanwhile, Apple’s pushing both carriers to squeeze more out of 3G, with HSPA+ and AT&T and with an impending evdo revision which may offer simultaneous voice and data, hopefully more speed, and that stuff you might see in the next iPhone but I’d bet against LTE. Not much in it for Apple to be the LTE pioneer, might as well let the likes of HTC lead the way and see what happens.

Ramon:

Oh most def. I agree. That’s always been apples way of doing things. Sit back, watch, learn, rebrand  and sell. That’s what they’re brilliant at. But it will be too late. In another year a 4g iPhone won’t hold as much weight as a 4g Android phone. Peoples mind share is already shifting, and shifting really fast. 

Aaron:

Almost positive the iPhone 4 is HSPA ±.  The Motorola atrix is going to be as well along with the HTC and new Samsung coming out.

AT&T saves all its bandwidth for the iPhone customers which are of course the bread and butter right now for AT&T. Since we lost exclusivity of the iPhone I think you will see a large push to other phones now and greater support of other devices.  No other company would have been able to handle the influx of a incredible amount of data users in such as short time. Lets not forget that Verizon dropped the ball initially.

What is Verizon going to do when the iPhone 5 comes out in June July and all of its new iPhone people aren’t eligable for an upgrade. I know I would be pissed if I bought a CDMA iPhone and now a true 4g iPhone comes out six months later.

Sorry back on topic

I have both T-Mobile and AT&T for data service and 8/10 times my data speeds are faster than with T-Mobile (comparing HD2 to Samsung Captivate that is)  I would love to see a real world test of a CDMA iPhone and a GSM iPhone. I would bet money the GSM one is going to be a lot faster.

Currently AT&T sells a USB laptop card that is LTE ready from LG and all of are cards are HSPA±. 

I think this whole 4G talk is funny how people make a big deal about it. Even if the phone is 4G LTE or not your phone still has limitations such as browser rendering speed etc. Also doesn’t mean all the stuff you download is going to piped at 4G speeds.

Doug Simmons:

You’re wrong, no HSPA+ on the iPhone 4. So that leaves no HSPA+ phones being sold by AT&T on their 99% HSPA+ network. High five AT&T. I guess they must be focusing all their efforts on Sacramento’s LTE, no time to offer anything but a USB stick for their fully deployed 4G network.

Assuming there will be an iPhone 5 in five months, I don’t know what Verizon will do, maybe they don’t either — they’ll either absorb the expense and let the early adopters upgrade, cut them some kind of deal, or not. Who cares. Keep in mind they’ll be selling this iPhone not only to people who bought their CDMA iPhone 4 but also to Verizon subscribers who’d been using other devices and new subscribers.

Hopefully though they’ll have this EVDO revision in place by the time AT&T has more than a HSPA+ USB stick and the iPhone 5 will accommodate each carrier’s respective update, keep the playing field a little more even. And I don’t remember Verizon dropping any such ball, please refresh my memory.

With this AT&T/Verizon iPhone throughput head to head you’d like to see, do you mean tests in completely randomly selected points in the country or just where the two networks both have 3G coverage? What you’d see is that in places like San Francisco and NYC is the Verizon phone crushing AT&T’s, though probably pretty much everywhere else where the AT&T phone got a 3G signal it would defeat, decisively, Verizon’s. But according to those commercials AT&T’s 3G coverage doesn’t, or didn’t at the time, cover Verizon’s. Maybe they’ve been busy lately, I don’t know. But if you take into account all the areas AT&T doesn’t cover but Verizon does and factored those tests in at 0kbps (and in fairness doing the converse in areas where Verizon has no coverage but AT&T does), you may very well see the Verizon iPhone averaging out on top. The Google fight of AT&T sucks versus Verizon sucks, you’re not going to see any change favorable to AT&T over the next several months. Remember that I said that as that’s of course the best barometer for which carrier’s better.

Now what percentage of iPhone owners, typical owners, not just those who jailbreak the thing as soon as they open it up, do you think could notice the difference between 750kbps and 1.5Mbps doing whatever it is they do on their iPhone? Provided you didn’t tell them to fire up some speed test app or you don’t gather up test subjects in a tethering convention, probably not too many. Verizon will consistently deliver without extreme exceptions like a few cities AT&T has .. struggled with and the average happiness customer satisfaction test you’d see, Verizon will dominate that with their iPhone owners.

Which devices are earning carriers around the world who sell both the most, ones running iOS or Android? Are these things still shifting or has the needle crossed the line to Android?

Aaron:

Doug such hatred for AT&T.  What did they ever do to you?

The whole reasoning you say T-Mobile has a better 4G is because they have a shitty MyTouch that doesn’t even stand close to the iPhone?  T-Mobile customer care might be better than AT&T but that’s it.  I was talking to a couple of guys who install cell cites in all of Northern California.  I wasn’t suprised when the told me that T-Mobile is only putting up HSPA+ TMA while AT&T and Verizon are trully installing LTE TMA.  It doesn’t matter how you start it’s all how you finish.  For me I happy to wait for LTE than have a half hazard 4G.  You have to realize that most cell phone customer have very little knowledge about 4G, HSPA+, HSDPA, HSUPA, EVDO, etc. etc. etc. So this whole talk is once again all about marketing.

I have AT&T because where I work and live they work great for me.  T-Mobile is very very very spotty once you leave the city.  I have Verizon friends in South Lake Tahoe and they get little to no reception while I get HSDPA.  Not bad if you ask me.

When it really boils down to and all that really matters is which device and service works best for you in your area.  That’s it plain and simple.  This whole discussion about who is better bla bla bla is all subjective.  Like you said people in NYC and SF might have completely different opinions then people in other parts of the country.  Did pcworld just release a article saying that SF data speeds for AT&T were faster then Verizon?  Both AT&T and Verizon use independent providers to test data speed and this can all change by a number of factors; Time of day, location, devices. 

Doug Simmons:

This isn’t about HSPA+, my AT&T hate, it’s more that they failed to give me what I paid for and not only that they failed harder and harder as time past. I waited three years to see if they’d turn around and begin to suck less — didn’t happen. I wanted to like them. I like that they’re keeping it real with their original name, a wireless carrier (among other things) with the word telegraph in their name. Almost romantic. But it clearly seems that in my neighborhood AT&T is in the business of driving me nuts, that I’ve got this great phone which would be awesome even off wifi were I not glued to AT&T.

I don’t trust PCMag who, without revealing much detail on their methods, said AT&T was the throughput king in my city averaging at 1.7mbps which struck me as utter bullshit. One day I was in a unique position, one of possession of two similar phones, one working on AT&T and the other T-Mobile, so I videotaped non-HSPA+ T-Mobile and AT&T head-to-head speed tests in parts of Manhattan requested in advance by our readers, the largest chunk of whom come from New York city, and learned that AT&T, across the board, couldn’t hold a candle to T-Mobile nor to, in some places like Times Square and Bryant Park, what any consumer would find acceptable, tolerable or even usable.

Put the whole damn thing with a map, with all locations and times plotted down along with every bit of data about what I did that day, no mystery like what PCMag got. If PCMag, unlike the rest of the Internet who insists AT&T sucks too, says the best carrier in San Fransico, like New York, is AT&T, I have no confidence in that finding and even less in PCMag. Sounds a little crazy but I suspect people who looked at my data may have found it a bit more trustworthy, more reflective of reality, than that magazine.

I hate AT&T not for any fancy reason you’d need a psychoanalyst to explain but because, as with other consumers in my city, they’ve pissed me off with their unusable network in my city. You’d think of all cities they’d try to get their shit together in New York, but they still haven’t. I’m tired of all the crappy customer service 611 experiences, I’m tired of them stinging my folks several hundred dollars for email polling data they racked up in a few weeks abroad because I forgot to ask AT&T to provision the account for their sweet 20MB deal… Man I hate them because they suck and it’s especially compelling, the effect on me of how much they sucked at delivering what I paid them to deliver, after I have seen fine service from another company.

What is with you and other AT&T fanatics we’ve got lurking who always point out when I say I love T-Mobile that they suck/have spotty service outside of major areas. I have never once said that T-Mobile is your best bet whoever you are, wherever you live and to wherever you travel. I’ve said the opposite, that AT&T’s got more coverage outside of the city and just really sucks in two major cities whereas T-Mobile is trailing far behind in terms of dense coverage everywhere. I’m offering information and venting to fellow city slickers, not Appalachian Trail hikers, no spin on top of that at all other than I think T-Mobile knows how to pick spokeswomen, but that’s true and you know it.

Doug Smith (out of nowhere):

cheap skates

 

Your serve, readers!

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’m never featured because everything I say is either jot correct or just random. I’ll start now though: ATT does fail at general customer service (not you Aaron you are solid), ATT does have good speed and general reliability, however Verizon stomps ATT in high population areas. ATT does not seem to hold up very well with big flux in usage (San Luis Obispo cell towers crashed when iPhones got mms….). Verizon has laid out their lte and is good to go. ATT on the other hand is taking their time setting it up right and in a broader area. In the end I think it 100% boils down to what is better in your region. Hell, tmo gets better than ATT in some areas. Verizon however can’t get a single bar at my cabin. I am on ATT because that is what my family uses and it works great in the sacramento/San Luis Obispo areas

  2. Love these kind of post guys, keep it up. I’ll chime in about AT&Ts network also. I live in a highly populated area also (Houston) and have noticed in that past few years their network getting considerably worst even on the HTC Fuze, I started getting dropped calls toward the end of my contract for the Fuze. Now that I have an iPhone that data usage seems flakey at times. When running a speed test I show 1 to 1.5 Mbps but the phone can still take a long time to update twitter or regular browsing. Not sure why that is but its is certainly frustrating even though I have plenty of bars. Other times it works great, just like I am on WiFi. Plus their customer service not only sucks for the mobile division, I had their DSL service and it would randomly stop working. Tried to get their field service guy out at my house several times and he would show up outside of the scheduled times. So I had to try to reschedule the appointments but they made me go through their “trouble shooting” methods every time. It pissed me off so bad the third time that I ended the phone call screaming and cursing the AT&T rep and switched to cable internet the next day. No problems yet other than its going to be more expensive when my special promotion expires in a few months.

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