NYT: Data Shows AT&T Has a Better Network Than Verizon


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Randall Stross digs deeper and finds that despite customer satisfaction surveys that suggest Verizon has a clear advantage, independent research shows that AT&T actually has better data throughput and signal strength than any of its competitors. In fact, design flaws in how the iPhone connects to cell towers — and the device’s massive popularity — may contribute to the poor network experience that most consumers attribute to AT&T.

“AT&T’s besting of Verizon in these tests is all the more remarkable considering the sudden jump in the volume of mobile data that its network has had to handle with the introduction of the iPhone 3G in 2008: approximately 4,000 percent.”

Waiting to hear the alternative arguments…

  1. I’ve had an iPhone for the past year or so and have had some major issues with dropped calls. I essentially can’t use it from my house with any level of dependability.

    Who do I attribute this failure to? Apple AND Att. When Att brought the iPhone into their lineup, Att was putting their reputation on the line with the phone, as it should be. That the phone is manufactured by someone else does not get Att a free pass on this. Yes, it reflects poorly on Apple, but in my view it reflects poorly on Att as well.

    Att can have the best signal strength and throughput in the world, but if they don’t sell and then support products (which are exclusive to them) that can demonstrate that technical advantage effectively, then it should reflect poorly on them.

    Alternatively, if the upcoming Google Phone (which will supposedly be unlocked) is sold directly by Google and had similar problems, you could not blame it on Att because it is not Att’s product.

  2. Is data throughput the single defining measurement of what makes a network great? I’m just having a hard time reconciling the article’s findings against the fact that Verizon’s entire network is 3G and a large portion of AT&T’s non-metropolitan network is still EDGE.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that Apple is at least partially responsible for AT&T’s poor customer satisfaction grades. But are iPhone users the only AT&T customers that are dissatisfied?

  3. I think that AT&T really needs to work on it’s marketing. It seems they have lost the battle for the public’s opinion. They just need to keep working to improve and maybe have a massive marketing blitz!!

  4. John Gruber has a nice rebuttal at Daring Fireball: Link

    Me, I have a tough time swallowing the argument that Apple, kings of fit & finish, have allowed issues with basic functionality to go unresolved (indeed, get worse) through three versions of the phone. On the other hand, I’m totally willing to believe that AT&T was caught off guard by iPhone users’ limitless appetite for bandwidth.

    There’s a lot missing from the NYT article. Do iPhone users in Europe and Canada have similar problems? What about Blackberry users on AT&T?

  5. ars technica also has an extensive rebuttal:


    there are complaints in the UK about dropped calls and such but again seem to be in congested areas [like London].

  6. I find it interesting how in pretty much every western country people bash the biggest telecommunication company and blame them for all technological issues they experience. It’s AT&T in the US, Telstra in Australia and Deutsche Telekom in Germany.

    Howver, I do think that these corporations abuse their power and status and have (for many years with little competition) not spent enough money on preparing for the digital (mobile) age.

    I’ve spent the last 3 months in NY (originally from Germany, now living in Melbourne, Australia) and I find it quite sad that the US (THE most tech-advanced country in the world) has a network, especially in NYC, that can’t cope with the amount of people using it. Besides that, AT&T plans and contracts are totally srewed up. As a visitor using prepaid, I can’t get on the 3G network and use data packages. Oh, hang on there is an option $20 for 5MB. Are you kidding me? What year do we live in again?

    Even Australia, the big deserted island that it is, is about 5 years ahead of the US. Very sad…

  7. Simple. iPhones don’t work in our office or in many people’s (that I know) apartments. Verizon works everywhere for me, sometimes even in the subway. No matter what the statistics say, this has been my experience for years.

  8. HAHAHAH…. This is interesting considering some of the New York Times folks shed banter on the fact that only certain “zones” of NYTimes offer them the best service available. Khoi, I may side w/you but this is funny.


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