T-Mobile Crushes The Competition In West Coast Speed Test


“My network is better than your network.” It’s an argument I’m sure you’ve heard before, whether online or in the real world. The funniest part about that argument, is everyone is right, no matter who is providing their service. Why? That’s because it’s all dependent on where you live. Sprint might be great in LA, but travel 1 hour west, and it has the slowest, most spotty data speeds next to dial-up. Sure you can look at your carriers network coverage map on their company site, but really — those are nothing compared to what you see in real life.

PC Mag knows this, and it’s one of the reasons why they decided to take a road trip with the 4 leading carriers in the US and post the results to see who came out on top. The itinerary took them from Las Vegas, NV; to Tucson AZ, San Diego, CA; Orange County, CA; and all the way up the coast finally landing in Cambria. The results? It may come as a surprise to many of you, but ‘old #4 — otherwise known as T-Mobile — came out on top with kicky fast download speeds on their HSPA+ network. It should be said that PC Mag still found T-Mobile’s coverage to be spotty, but in more the more rural/suburban areas, that’s when their 3G/4G network kicked into high-gear, delivering about double the download speeds of even AT&T. Wowzers.

This is, by no means, the end-all-be-all of network tests, just something to give you guys an idea of what you should expect should you ever think of joining team Magenta (in CA). I can tell you the results they posted from all 4 carriers was almost dead on my personal experiences on each in my hometown. How ’bout you?

[PCMag | TMoNews]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. People should read that entire article its really impressive and I look forward to PCMag doing this every year. In most of the cities T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 was second only to Verizon LTE and actually not far off from it at all which is pretty amazing. Really looking forward to T-Mobile LTE Advanced next year with HSPA+ 42 as a fallback. – D

    1. they do these tests all the time I’ve seen a dozen or so and tmobile always came in 2nd but wow tmobile FTW_

  2. I’m in PDX where Verizon has rolled out LTE and T-Mobile has HSPA+42. With my Samsung Galaxy S2 I regularly beat my friends on Verizon. HSPA+42 may not be quite as fast in theory as Verizon’s LTE, but there are fewer of us T-Mobile users sucking down bits, so it turns out to be faster in real life.

    In spite of the great data speeds T-Mobile keeps losing customers. The reason is that they don’t have the iPhone. If they had the iPhone they’d be gaining on the other carriers. Much as I hate the iPhone, those are the marketing facts in today’s carrier marketplace.

    1. It’s even better that you can get service with an MNVO like Straight Talk and take advantage of their HSPA+ speeds for $45 a month. Can’t beat that with a stick.

      1. Chris, I’ve been thinking a lot about switching to a T-Mo Straight Talk plan. It seems too good to be true. What’s the catch? Are you using the same network with the same data speeds as the parent (i.e., I believe Virgin Mobile is on a slower network than Sprint)? I realize you have to pay full price for your phone, but I’m fine with that!

        1. Virgin mobile uses Sprint towers. they prob get about the same speeds….SLOW

          1. Yes, but which Sprint towers? I’m thinking only 2G, which I can’t imagine how slow that would be on Sprint. I agree with you about the SLOW speeds though either way lol

        2. i have Straight Talk and the only downside i found is that the unlimited data isn’t the unlimited we came to know and love. you can’t stream, for example YouTube, Pandora, iHeartRadio, etc.

          1. You can’t or they just discourage it? I wonder if people actually get “caught”.

          2. you CAN’T. they track your data usage and when they notice large amounts of data usage at once or something, they cut your 3G as a warning. if it happens again, they can terminate their services for you.

          3. there is a way, but it involes your phone’s mobile network- Prah-Ks-ee settings. look into it on XDA.

        3. The catch is the “unlimited* data”. You’re really capped at 2gb a month and there are similar data caps per day which if you exceed could end up getting your service cut.

          If you had to pick between the T-mobile version or AT&T then go with the one with better coverage for you, the speeds won’t be much of a determining factor.

          1. I see. Thanks for the reply.

        4. What @aiden9:disqus said =p

      2. Chris are you sure? I think you may be in error about taking advantage of HSPA+ through an MVNO.

        I was under the impression that a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) such as Straight Talk has a different coverage map than the actual carrier they purchase the access from.

        For example. T-Mobile may have HSPA+ coverage in one area, but the coverage map for the MVNO differs, where they may only have access to edge in the same area.

        Same is true for At&t pre-paid versus postpaid, and T-mobile pre-paid versus T-mobile post-paid. The coverage map for pre-paid customers differs from the post-paid coverage map. For example, on T-Mobile’s post paid coverage map an area may have 4G, but the same area on T-Mobile’s pre-paid is limited to edge and limited roaming.

        Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I always thought it worked.

        1. @abc That was my understanding too.

      3. Doesn’t T-Mobile have an off-contract plan that’s $30 a month?

        1. Yep, just checked. $30 a month 5GB capped unlimited data, unlimited text, 100 minutes. Seriously tempting – just wish they had better coverage…

          1. Does the 100 minute plan include free/unlimited nights and weekends?

          2. No, just 100 minutes.

          3. but you could look into a VOIP app for the phone to use while on wifi & negate the use of the plan’s minutes.

      4. Just hope you don’t need any customer service when something isn’t working right with your Straight Talk. ;-/

    2. The iPhone isn’t the only reason. For me, it’s their lack of coverage as compared to Verizon. While their coverage may be okay in metropolitan areas, I like to be able to depend on Verizon’s coverage when I’m on the road.

      1. this article proves this comment wrong ,…………

  3. I guess it”s time to give T-Mobile a second look!

  4. Well, yeah. That’s HSPA+ being compared to the 3G of other networks. It’s also funny to look at why the mobile carriers say that they are the best. They never simply say, “The Best”, because, in the ferocity of competition, somebody would get sued. It’s the “Largest 4G Network” for TMo, The “Fastetest 4G Network” for Verizon, the “First 4G Network” for Sprint, and “Hey guys! iPhone, right?” for AT&T.

    1. I just saw a new at&t commercial and it said the biggest 4g network. 2000 more cities than verizon or something like that. Of course the letters lte were nowhere in sight. Lol

      1. Maybe it’s their HSPA+ “4G”. That is how T-Mobile plays their cards.

        1. The thing is though, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 21 and 42 were rightfully a huge leap over 3G networks in place with their competitors. It performs on par with LTE rather than other 3G networks.

          At&t’s using that loophole to lump their hspa+ 14 in the same category.

    2. How nobody else managed to point this out is amazing. Especially not the author of the blog post. Wow. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ is faster than Verizon 3G? Amazing. How about they compare Apples to Apples…. if T-Mobile wants to call HSPA+ their 4G network then you should compare it to other 4G networks.

  5. The keyword here is 3G

    1. Call it whatever you want…I am getting 9 MB downloads in the DC Metro on T-Mobile

      1. That’s great Mark. It sure makes it easier to get faster speeds when no one is using the service.

        I actually found it funny that we are still comparing 3G speeds when everyone has been focusing on 4G.

        1. prettty sure t mob had 4g wayyyyy b4 verizon n att …douche

  6. I really want to like T-Mo, but their data footprint is just so weak in the greater Phoenix area. Also, My friend has T-Mo in PHX and whenever she sends me a screen shot of something, I notice half the time its only got the 2G notification. These speed tests look good, but if your not in just the right spot, you get dumbed down. Consistent, widespread coverage is far more important then a max speed test war.

    1. I agree 100% Ben. I’d rather have consistently good 3G coverage EVERYWHERE than a speed test war.

  7. I realize @CoreyShaughnessy already (more or less) stated this but compare apples to apples. TMo advertises “4G” so pit it against a heavy weight, not Glass Joe (3G).

  8. Sorry but a network that isn’t reliable isn’t worth anything to me, look at UDP success, http d/l success. I’d take AT&T’s 1.38mbps with 98% of downloads over 144kpbs over spotty t-mobile.

  9. I think HSPA+ 42 is better than LTE cause its fast but wont cause your battery to take a hit.

  10. In my area (Bakersfield, CA) at&t sucks big ding ding!

  11. HAHA Come up here to Mendocino County and Northwestern California, where T-Mobile is STILL GPRS and EDGE! AT&T, Verizon and U.S. Cellular are all 100% 3G and AT&T has HSPA+ w/EB (I get around 10 Mpbs down on that), with Verizon planning to roll out LTE here this year and U.S. Cellular and AT&T to roll LTE here next year. The other carrier, Metro PCS is still 2G too. Now, T-Mobile may be great in urban areas, but come up to NorCal and much of their network is STILL 2G, and the same is true for much of the west and midwest.

    1. They lost my parents and their 4 lines recently to AT&T due to their horrible coverage, declining customer service and lack of 3G here in NW CA.

      1. By the way, their “trip” skipped what, about 80% of California and 90% of the west, and they call that a success? What a joke.

  12. aww that’s cute… speed tests in 3G. T-fumble still trying to show they are relevant.

  13. same thing on east coast on my ride frm long island to vermont through ct and mass
    verizon ,att,sprint couldnt keep up with t mob

  14. How poorly sprint is doing should be the news here.

    I miss having tmobile, their speeds are great. HSPA + 42 is freakin’ fast. Hold up…so this is HSPA + being compared to 3G of other networks, of course it’s faster!

  15. HEY! When I click on an article on the main page, I expect the picture on the front page to be the picture in the article, dammit!

  16. It’s worthy to note that this was against the 4G towers put up by Verizon at&t and sprint… Just for some who are too incompetent to read the source because of their bias. 3g or 4g T-Mobile is winning the speed war at a cheaper price. Suck it haters!

  17. Great article Phandroid, this is the type of info we real techies want! Also i love T-Mobile; been with them since day 1 or should I say “G1”. I just wish I could experience 42mbps, that would be amazing! I’m running a Galaxy Nexus on TMo in Chicago suburbs and the best I’ve ever seen is 8-9mbps and that gave me SUCH a bone-doggy..I don’t know if I could handle 42!!!

  18. So this is a 3g test? Where is the Verizon 4G that whoops T-Mobile a$$

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