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Summary:

Open Signal Maps has put together an interactive map showing data from thousands of carrier speed tests combined with information known about the iPhone 4S’s chipset. AT&T is the fastest in 31 states, but does that include your state? Check out the map for more details.

OpenSignalMapsiPhone4S

Now that you have three U.S. carriers to choose from when it comes to the new iPhone 4S, you can afford to shop around a little for the network operator that will get the best performance out of Apple’s latest smartphone. Open Signal Maps has helpfully put together an interactive map showing data from thousands of speed tests combined with information known about the iPhone 4S’s chipset. The maps shows that AT&T is the winner in 31 states, but does that include your state? Check out the map below and click through for more details.

Open Signal Maps doesn’t have data on every state (sorry, people of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire). While AT&T took 31 states, Verizon would be fastest for iPhone 4S owners in six states. Sprint didn’t test fastest in any state. At least they’ve got that unlimited data plan going for them?

Open Signal Maps does include the caveat that this is not a comparison of the three carriers’ networks vis-a-vis each other. Rather, this is a test of how the iPhone 4S only operates on each different network. Here’s the explanation:

What’s the difference? Well, the iPhone 4S is a dual-mode phone that supports AT&T’s 3G network, which uses HSPA technology, and Verizon and Sprint’s 3G network, which runs on EVDO. AT&T has recently upgraded their existing HSPA network to HSPA+, which offers almost double the speed of their original 3G network, and the iPhone 4S supports this newly upgraded technology. Verizon and Sprint aren’t actually far behind: have both rolled out next-generation 4G networks, and Verizon’s LTE network in particular was blazing fast in our recent testing. But since the iPhone 4S doesn’t support those networks, they’re not included in our analysis.

  1. This comparison would be better at a more granular level (counties, state regions, etc.). I’m sure people in places like West Texas or Western North Carolina would beg to differ about AT&T being better than Verizon.

  2. Scuba Steve, I agree. Here’s a study comparing all 3 carriers in 13 major cities. It shows that AT&T’s San Francisco service is a full 26% less reliable than Sprint and a full 30% less reliable than Verizon (for the same area). http://www.pcworld.com/article/167391/a_day_in_the_life_of_3g.html

    1. This map is so misleading. I’ll take Verizon’s 3G coverage and fewer drop calls over AT&T’s 3G mostly edge network coverage outside of the metro areas at least in most state I’ve been in.

  3. Last I checked, Alaska and Hawaii are states as well…

  4. OpenSignalMaps Monday, October 10, 2011

    @Scuba Steve We are collecting the data on a very granular level, but that obviously requires a greater density of data to be accurate. You can view more granular data on the OpenSignalMaps website.

    @Sol Republic – We haven’t included reliabilityin this study and we agree its important. There’s many other metric we could include as well but we’ve focused on speed for this study.

    @Sandieu – If you click through to our website you can see we do have data for both Hawaii & Alaska, albeit slightly less than more populated states.

    Thanks for all the comments!

  5. This is all well and good, but here in Oklahoma, despite their recommendation of AT&T as the best provider, the fact is that Sprint has FAR more AREAL coverage, and 100% of that is 3G, whereas AT&T covers only 40% of the state and only 30% of that is 3G. I have pre-ordered a Sprint iPhone 4Gs, and although Sprint’s download speeds will not be as high as AT&T’s, at least I will be able to use my new iPhone at home, which is something I have never been able to do with AT&T.

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