SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: AT&T, Sprint and Verizon

Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon


SF intern Andi Wang set out to test over three afternoons, covering a wider range than most testers by hitting not just SF but Marin and a good bit of Silicon Valley.

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Googleplex (Wednesday, 1pm)
Having been born and raised in Silicon Valley, I like to brag that Google's Headquarters is just 10 minutes away from my house. Even though the Googleplex itself isn't all that interesting, it's incredibly ginormous, and you get free Naked Juice and candy at the Visitor's Center! Plus, it's Google!

Golden Gate Bridge (Thursday, 3:30pm)
The Golden Gate Bridge is what connects San Francisco to the North Bay—without it, the city would be a secluded island, susceptible to Cloverfield-like attacks. Oh, wait, we're NOT on an island?! My bad...

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Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon

Oracle Arena (Friday, 12:30am)
Across the street from where the Oakland A's play ball lies the home of the Golden State Warriors. Oakland is in the East Bay, an area I like to avoid because of my allergy to bullets; but my boyfriend took me here anyway for a concert where we rocked out to The Killers (and where I got my mack on with Andrew McMahon from Jack's Mannequin)!

Marin Civic Center (Friday, 10:30am)
In 1997, The Civic Center served as a prominent location in the movie Gattaca. Ten years later, the Peking Acrobats dazzled the hell out of me at a show here, which made me believe I could be a Chinese acrobat too! That didn't work out so well, so I now stick to attending Ryan Adams's concerts at the Civic Center instead.

Golden Gate Park (Friday, 1pm)
My lover lives across the street from Golden Gate Park, where the homeless people show me their wieners, hippies have drum circles on sunny Saturdays, and sketchy men sell me beers from their rolling suitcases. Despite the crazies, it is a nice place to take a stroll on a lazy Sunday to the Botanical Gardens, deYoung Museum, and the Academy of Sciences.

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Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon
Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon
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Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon
Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon
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Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon
Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon
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Results
Though AT&T only beat the others twice, it handily won the upload contest. Peaks for all three carriers were really great, but there seems to be some volatility in more congested areas. Blam thinks AT&T's Bay Area coverage map looks like leopard spots, and our tests justify his gripes (though the same could be said for Verizon).

Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon
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Illustration for article titled SF and Bay Area 3G Data Test: ATT, Sprint and Verizon

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DISCUSSION

julianadorsuo-old
JulianaDorsuo

Wow. What a great article - thanks for researching. I currently have a Verizon Motorola phone and use an AT&T iPhone for work. I drive from Marin to the peninsula for work everyday, which gives me access to a lot of geography to check coverage. For me, the Verizon network always wins with the most uniform coverage. I can be high on Mt Tam and get bars or a tone just about anywhere. With the ATT phone, calls drop at least 3x times on the way to work and I can't get coverage even at my house. AT&T's network seems atrociously bad for such a wired area as SF. As much as I want to keep on using that iPhone, its hard to justify it when my basic need for decent coverage is not met.

What surprises me is how good Sprint's coverage is. I have heard several friends who say that the Sprint 3G network cards are the best for making that long "I am supposed to be working but faking it" drive up the I-80 corridor to Tahoe.