Google and Android - 24 December 2010
Author: Doug Simmons

potentialtmobilegirlcandidateAs we discussed, I lit out Wednesday packing an AT&T Nexus One and a T-Mobile Nexus S for a tour of Manhattan, speed testing the phones side by side at various sites along the way. The tests illustrated consistently that T-Mobile’s network is excellent and AT&T’s is the opposite of excellent. Pardon my unjournalistic tone but man, AT&T sucks so bad that in two locations the bandwidth was too nonexistent to get a reading.

I did not stack the deck against AT&T in any way and AT&T’s performance was consistent with what I’ve consistently seen, suffered from and bitched about for years? With another camera I took excessively high def video of the races for proof should anyone feel the need to cross examine me. I’ll youtube that below the data table but don’t watch it if you’re lucking for excitement. All right boss, you ready? Ready for the numbers big guy?  Think you can handle it chief? You sitting down holmes? Bam!

Location / Time AT&T down AT&T up AT&T ping T-Mo down T-Mo up T-Mo ping
106 & CPW, 11:43am 2196kbs 1239kbs 151ms 3971kbs 1766kbs 74ms
72nd & Bway, 2:40pm 1852kbs 921kbs 139ms 3802kbs 1810kbs 54ms
Time Square, 3pm 2kbs 33kbs 300ms 2033kbs 1295kbs 144ms
NYSE, 3:45pm 680kbs 74kbs 388ms 910kbs 1309kbs 146ms
Bryant Park, 4:44pm 0kbs 73kbs 145ms 1382kbs 830kbs 66ms
Columbus Circle, 5:11pm 139kbs 13kbs 144ms 1380kbs 1271kbs 136ms
Central Park, 5:29pm 1295kbs 1110kbs 145ms 1543kbs 791kbs 131ms
Averaged… 880kbs 495kbs 202ms 2146kbs 1296kbs 107ms
How much better is T-Mo? 2.4x better! 2.6x better! 1.9x better!

Here’s the footage. Want more eyes on this so please and mention it somewhere, shortlink:  http://goo.gl/eYpBk.

mapofATTgettingitsasskickedbytmobileThe video’s boring but the highlights are Time Square at 4:57 in, Bryant Park at 8:51. The Columbus Circle test, 10:42, was in the subway but both phones had a good signal. Click the map on the right to blow up a visual of where these tests went down if you’re not great with geography. Though AT&T did all right at the Stock Exchange, I had to wait a while for it to squeeze its way onto 3G from edge. To AT&T’s credit, good throttling trick to keep the network functional for the brokers to field T sell orders.

Other writers out there, feel free to use those numbers instead of PC Mag’s. I didn’t catch AT&T on a bad day, this is exactly what they get away with selling in my city. Because of Google, Samsung and because AT&T, from their shitty network to what they call customer service, I’m delighted I can use my phone, as those numbers imply, wherever I go in the city with plenty of speed to, for example, refresh my RSS reader a block away from the subway entrance, or to be able to send an email or an instant message in midtown without also sending a text too hoping my wife gets at least one of those, five minutes pass without a response and then I’m thinking screw it I’ll just call her. Damnit, stupid call dropped, don’t think it even rang.

badassgrocerycartPeople of AT&T who are not happy with AT&T, give another carrier, any carrier, a try, just in case, like me, you’ve been missing out on great service unnecessarily for so damn long. After the test I was so psyched that I twittered at the offical TMobile account (I think) who actually retweeted my ass!

hi_tmo_iloveyouAnd should this article make its way to some suit at T-Mobile, just keep on doing what you’re doing and you’ll be fine. I’m of course just referring to the pretty women in your ads, can’t just win the game on sexy spokesgirls alone, though they do help. Glad to meet you T-Mobile! And damn, nice ping responses!

Doug Simmons









About Author

Biographical info.. hmm. I have a history of not being able to strike the balance between what is "safe" to put into these forms and what is, in my mind at least, funny. Can't do it.

(30) Readers Comments

  1. Guess three things come into play here.
    1. How the signal is where you will use it most often?
    2. What kind of signal you will get in locations that you may visit often (other states or regions)?
    3. What network are other frequent callers in your circle using?

    Probably 80% of all my calls are to other AT&T mobile users so that needs to be considered. And while I may not be averaging 2146kbs, I am probably in the 1500 to 1800kbs range, which works for me. Glad you finally snagged some needed bandwidth though.

    Any chance ToMo is getting the iPhone. They could make a fortune, and really piss you off at the same time.

  2. could it be the phone or whatever you where downloading or using to test? im wondering about how you got a ping response with no down connection on that one result. maybe you shoulda thrown that result out so it didnt seem so subjective. i get 5mbit and 2mbit up with att in my area. i havent found another carrier that can even hit those speeds yet. even though i love the sophistication of the gsm lte 4g network that verizon and att have chosen to use, i can see myself switching to sprint solely based on carrier stances of net neutrality.

  3. Tmobile is by far the best network I think in terms of network service. I might have issues with some of their other stuff but in terms of network connection they are great at least in my area. I dont think I have ever had any dropped calls with tmobile but today I was using a friends iphone at the basketball court and the “call failed” 3 times before it finally connected me and I tried to make a call again and “call failed” again. There were 3 signal bars btw! ATT sucks!

  4. Jack of Clubs: I’ve had the AT&T phone for most of the year. When the bandwidth is available, it gets the bandwidth. Almost hit 4mbits once. There’s nothing deficient with that phone. And when you see results for it north of 2mbits, suggests the thing’s working, then when you get a zilch result (which might have squeezed some ICMP before getting no subsequent data), and then you go way downtown to the stock exchange and it performs decently, then you go back to 42nd Street but east a bit at Bryant Park and get the same kind of result you get at Time Square, and when you look at every single number up there showing AT&T getting killed by T-Mobile, you begin to see, or at least I begin to see, a pattern which paints this picture pretty clearly. That in my city AT&T sucks and apparently T-Mobile’s pretty good. That picture. But you’re telling me I should scrap a test because the speed test program may have behaved sketchily? C’mon, cut me some slack, let’s not get too academic.

    As for what I used to test, it’s the same speedtest application everyone else uses, kept as many factors constant here.

  5. I can confirm at least that AT&T in NYC is balls. I was in Times Square this afternoon. Virtually no signal (Focus). Yes, I had a connection and it was downloading but I was shaking my phone violently to try to get the rest of the data i know Iw as owed…damn map was barely loading. I get the same thing in midtown all the time. You can’t try to use any real amount of data during peak hours…and that’s 11am-3pm, 4:30pm-9pm I’d say…

  6. I dont know why there is so much hate for ATT… I’ve had the same cell company since 1997. Pacbell which then turned into Cingular and now ATT. Live in the Bay Area. Make tons of calls, tons of messaging and internet, simultaneous. in fact I use my cell as my internet provider even at home… I havent had a drop call in the past 4 years. I travel through US, and even Europe. Use the Tilt 2… and the only thing I can complain, there aren’t any good Fones out there as of right now… Waiting for the Touch Pro 3 to come out…. and I do not work for ATT or any telecommunication company. So Voila, and suck it for you little winers that hate ATT and Windows Mobile !

  7. Welcome to T-Mobile or as I call it … the good life.
    I left ATT just when they took over Cingular (which I figured was the name because it had only one line lol).
    Its been about 6 years now and I’ve never looked back. Besides the price point for unlimited service is so much better as well.

  8. I’d love to do a similar test here in DC. My average speeds on AT&T are still better than all but your your highest on Tmobile.. and I get over 4,000 kbps in some places

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  10. I’m in dc as well, averaging 5.5-7 MB on a nexus S, averaged 6-10 MB on the mt4g and g2.. needless to say I have put every other providers network to shame consistently. People are just so brainwashed by ads, the iPhone and whatnot, its refreshing to read an open-minded article for a change. Great job Doug andjames Williams thanks for making me laugh so early in the morning…(let it go)

    Mike B

  11. Then there you go. Anywhere from 5-10MB/sec on Tmob in DC. Very cool to hear. I wonder what their coverage in western MD is like though? I get consistent speeds of 1-4MB/sec from 495 in alexandria all the way out to Hagerstown, right off 81 (where I live). I can’t believe AT&T will be the last one to the ‘4G’ party… ugh..

  12. Yaniv: In addition to the performance I’ve seen so far along with two pleasant interactions with customer service and a dealership visit (T-Mo, not Best Buy which sucked), I’m in carrier love right now. On the other hand that emotion could be exaggerated as I’m on a carrier rebound…

    I dont know why there is so much hate for ATT… So Voila, and suck it for you little winers that hate ATT and Windows Mobile !”

    James, as the addresses of the test locations and the title and body of the article imply, I was going for a New York City theme. Not really in the mood to fly around the country testing. That data right there cost me a day and with T-Mobile defeating AT&T seven out of seven times (including, ironically perhaps, in front of the New York Stock Exchange where their stock is traded and has been doing quite well, with AT&T having unusable data two out of those seven times at different times and locations. When you read that data right there, especially if you live in NYC or Frisco, AT&T hate ensues. That progression doesn’t seem natural to you? As far as your fondness of WinMo, though the site is pretty old, maybe check out blownfuze.org, a site I made for guys like you (minus your attitude).

    mike b: 7Mbps over non-HSPA+ cellular? Hot damn, didn’t know that was possible. Getting 5.22Mbps last night, and now hearing you say 7, it softens the blow a bit of the nexus s not having HSPA+, and I have to doubt that in dense places at least it wouldn’t make a difference as you’d be limited not by your phone’s transceiver but by general network activity. Perhaps they left it out to let TMo keep the MyTouch 4G as their flagship HSPA+ phone? Perhaps that could also explain why it’s not being sold in the dealerships in addition to Best Buy? Ahh who cares.

    I want to be sympathetic to AT&T over the iphone excuse but if you have occasion to do a speed test a couple blocks away from their fifth avenue store and get shitty results, then you approach the store and do another test, at least all the times I’ve done it (and for all those times the store was packed with people using their phones and testing out the pads and so on), I would get decent speeds, 1.5Mbps territory, high hundreds up. That suggests to me, given that the surrounding area generally sucks yet an area within that area heavily concentrated with media-heavy mobile device hippies, the Apple store, the bandwidth is pretty good, that makes me think that it isn’t something related to physics or iPhone polling and its effects on GSM holding AT&T down in NYC, just a decision not to do whatever they’re doing in and around that Apple store around the rest of the city as well.

    I can’t believe AT&T will be the last one to the ’4G’ party… ugh..

    Chris: I’m getting the impression that T-Mo, the deepest underdog of the big four, is taking the most aggressive approach in attracting and pleasing customers with better technology. They rolled out 3G pretty damn fast, now HSPA+. Though one might blame the favorable test results I got yesterday on T-Mobile not having as much customers yet, bottom line is that in NYC T-Mobile crushes AT&T, it may be cheaper (haven’t read the fine print), they don’t yet have a 200MB quota that if you cross you automatically get bounced up to a more expensive 2GB (?) quota — rather if you hit 5GB they reserve themselves the right to throttle you down, not charge you more. That’s not a happy way to surprise people. I’ll keep an eye on my data this month and see what happens if I cross that line. My guess is that I’ll be unaffected.

    AT&T on the other hand claims they may launch LTE mid 2011. Think that’s a conservative estimate? Think you’ll have an LTE phone from AT&T by next summer?

    Verizon launched their LTE network in 38 markets three weeks ago, currently selling one of those laptop USB things. And according to CNN at least Samsung (without Bing this time), Motorola, possibly LG and probably HTC intend to unveil Android LTE devices for Verizon at the CES expo early January. Way to be, Verizon. Sprint? Not up to speed on them but they got that wimax, however unimpressed it may leave you, out pretty quick.

    By the way, Verizon’s stock gained over 10% more than AT&T this month, their shares are trading in the same neighborhood as AT&T’s but Verizon’s pays roughly the same dividend, though AT&T’s P/E is single digits versus Verizon’s 230 (meaning the smart money’s on Verizon by a landslide). I wish T-Mo were public, being strongly advised to diversify my portfolio a little away from just Google.

  13. @Doug lmao carrier rebound? hahaha well put. I know EXACTLY what you mean… that euphoric feeling you get when you realize… oh my G-d… I have a signal… Ive made a call that didnt drop, I can understand the caller on the other end….. marvelous… in fact…. serendipitous!

    @James…. you must be an idiot. Because only an idiot would comment on a persons test with your attitude….. so in your own words…. suck it.

    I was on Verizon for a while too…. have to say the phone service was quite impressive and customer service was also great. In fact…. if my phone broke I could just walk into any verizon store and pick up a new one…. unlike the other carrier which require you wait while they send you a new phone via UPS (although I must admit T-Mobile will get you the new phone in about 3 days… overnight in an emergency). Unfortunately …. I have to have GSM. No calling/GPS/Navigation/Internet at the same time? No No.

  14. all i can say is wait until t-mob actually gets a subscriber base similar to AT&T or VZW, these amazing speeds you guys are talking about would be non existent if t-mob was trying to support as many customers in NYC as AT&T does. for the time being doug, your in good shape… i dont wanna hear any bitching a year down the road though when your service is shitty again. also, t-mob doesnt even have real 4g, its just a gimmick. oh yeah, and they still dont have coverage in very many areas, which means if you were to relocate to another area where t-mob doesnt have any towers (like say… vermont) you would get a letter telling you they dont have any towers in the area so piss off, were not paying you to use AT&T’s towers. glad you got the data speeds you were looking for. i hope thats all that matters in a carrier to you is data speeds in one area though.

    the grass is always greener on the otherside…

  15. @sm0k3ydaband1t:
    Wow someone woke up on the wrong side of the spectrum this moring.

  16. sm0k3y: Actually yes, mostly I’m concerned with bandwidth in one area, New York City, including if not especially midtown where I like my data to work.

    Don’t own a car, furthest I’ve been out of New York since I’ve been back in the States from my honeymoon overseas is Westport and Wilton CT where I go for a weekend every month or two without even checking a map I am willing to bet you twenty bucks that when I’m there I’ll get a full signal and fast results. Twenty bucks?

    Though that’s not all I like about T-Mobile. I like the few people, though admittedly only a few, who’ve helped me. Wish I recorded the calls. Whereas I dread having to call AT&T and jump through fifty hoops to get off my old company to a family plan last year, rep after rep after unhelpful rep, with T-Mobile I look forward to our next interaction. As a matter of fact I just twittered with one of them about this article. He or she said impressive and retweeted. First time i’ve ever been retweeted, sm0k3y. First time.

    Also I am intrigued that Google has a uniquely flavored love affair with them, the first phone and the Nexuses. Why not just go full throttle with Verizon who has fifty zillion customers and a decent and presumably profitable relationship with you? Whatever their reason is, I like it.

    And of course, maybe at the top of the list, I simply just have to have the latest and greatest Google developer phone and right now to do that I have to have T-Mobile (unless I want to pay full price and only get edge). My wife has T-Mobile on her now retired Pearl (got her a Nexus, made a family plan, good price too), she’s had it for a while and she travels more than I do and she never reported anything along the lines of what you’re describing.

    If I were just looking for speed, I’d have gotten the MyTouch 4G or whatever, or waited another month or two or three for a Verizon LTE phone. Or moved to South Korea. Do you know how damn frustrating it is not to be able to use data when you’re paying good money for a data plan in the parts of Manhattan where people tend to go to during business hours? Especially if you’re one of those people, it sucks, and it sucks a lot more than driving through a couple more dead zones if in fact that’s what’s going to happen on my next road trip, especially if you’re using Google Maps 5 which caches very thoroughly. Who would you say, since you have more knowledge in this area than I do, is moving faster in terms of expanding their infrastructure and rolling out better and better service in general to its customers, T-Mobile or AT&T? Someone, I forgot who, wrote an article here a while back identifying T-Mobile as one of a top ten list of dying brands or companies. I don’t know their financials but they smell like a going concern still to me.

    I’m not necessarily saying this is a causal relationship in here but think of it this way: Android’s popularity is growing but not yet a perceived big threat to Apple. Then I jump from WinMo to Android and stick with using Android and now Android is going into more hands every day than any other platform, so happy I just got the newer Nexus even though my old one still is great, just not as bright outside for the most part, because this phone may get more Android goodness faster than any other phone including the Nexus One as was the case with Gingerbread.

    Here I am again doing a big jump, this time with the small carrier. Something tells me I won’t be bitching in your direction a year down the road in terms of my service becoming shitty or my being a part of a company that’s failing in general. I know what I’m doing.

    It’s refreshing to see some AT&T pride like what you just exhibited. You don’t see that a lot.

    Stitched the clips together to help further humanize the data collection, encoding then uploading…

  17. wait until t-mob actually gets a subscriber base similar to AT&T or VZW, these amazing speeds you guys are talking about would be non existent if t-mob was trying to support as many customers in NYC as AT&T does. for the time being doug, your in good shape… i dont wanna hear any bitching a year down the road though when your service is shitty again.

    I mean no disrespect sm0k3y to you by talking more AT&T shit but you know how Verizon has more subscribers than AT&T, how Verizon smartphones eat up more data than the iPhone and how last year Verizon and even Sprint handled more data than AT&T in 2009? Yet in spite of that and your suggestion that T-Mobile’s performance will fall apart like AT&T’s did in 2007 or so once T-Mobile’s in AT&T’s realm of subscribers, doesn’t it strike you a little strange that googling “at&t sucks” versus “verizon sucks” shows that AT&T sucks more than three times as hard? Where there’s smoke there’s fire, this at&t you see everywhere isn’t because people don’t like the logo or CEOs with Italian-sounding names.

    Is it not possible that T-Mobile could and would want to beef up their infrastructure as fast if not faster than it gains subscribers to eat those resources? If you build it they will come and if you maintain it they will stay and if you build it while maintaining it, in addition to those people who’d already came staying, more people will come. Couldn’t that be T-Mobile’s angle not just now but throughout any substantial growth they may achieve as a result of me and that sexy young lady and her predecessor, the lovely Catherine Zeta Jones?

    the grass is always greener on the otherside…

    Hey, how about giving me a little credit for hiking over to the other side both with Winmo to Android then AT&T to T-Mobile to enjoy what so far has turned out to be greener grass on both fronts than what was a long dirt road to the fantasy that once iPhoners defect to Verizon things will get better or maybe LTE won’t take several years to show up and whenever it does perhaps the backhaul behind it will also have been upgraded for the improved standards on the towers to make any difference.

  18. AT&T sucks 3 times harder because of mob mentality, AT&T had a bad time awhile back and it gave them a bad rep, and then everyone jumped on the bandwagon… well, there lingering… the grass is greener on the other side, i was windows mobile and rather than become a deranged android fanboy i went with windows phone 7, and im much happier than i ever was with your beloved android… so yeah, the grass is greener on the other side, and t-mo isnt even rolling out LTE, trust me when i say there bandwith will suffer with more subscribers…

  19. AT&T LTE, huh.

    You got an ETA you’d be willing to bet on for your next opportunity to own an AT&T-branded LTE Windows Phone phone (or any LTE phone of theirs for that matter)? Just throw out a date if you have no idea and I’ll give you the odds I’d take on that date. AT&T says they’re working on HSPA+ right now and expect to have limited deployment of LTE early 2011 to give you an idea of when it’s not happening.

    And would you subsequently be interested on a double or nothing on that bet with a speed test in Times Square of one of those AT&T LTE phones connected to a tower beaming the LTE standard versus whatever I happen to own on T-Mobile’s network, whatever technology it’s using that my phone supports, however many years down the line it takes AT&T to deploy and sell phones for LTE? For simplicity’s sake and for both wagers let’s define the date as coverage throughout Manhattan and with an AT&T-sold phone (not a USB stick) with the race going down in Time Square during business hours. Hell, anywhere in the city — just don’t tell me to fly to Dallas to perform a test for a $20 bet.

  20. Lol at the thought of DavidK shaking his Focus violently. On my way to work my Sprint TP2 has at least 2 bars more than my AT&T Surround. Frustrating that I feel I have to keep my Sprint phone because I dont trust AT&Ts coverage.

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  29. I would love to hear from Google’s PR as to why they’re holding back on this, as well. I know I can order one from Virgin in Canada or a few other sites for more money, but if this is a Google-contracted phone built by Samsung, why wdulon’t Google (or Samsung) offer the retail unlocked version to the general public, as well?Google seems to be an advocate of an open internet, but seems to bow to the wireless carriers in the US when it comes to their cell phones.Anyone from Google care to comment? Even an answer of “Verizon partially financially supported the design of this phone” would be fine. I would consider it a show of respect to at least know the answer, even if I don’t agree with the reasoning.

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