3G speeds: better on some devices than others?


3gI’ve been using wireless broadband, or 3G technology, since mid-2004. 99% of that time, I’ve used Verizon’s EV-DO service, known as BroadbandAccess. Sure, there was that brief fling I had with AT&T’s HSDPA offering, but you never forget your first love. Well, that and the coverage area wasn’t up to snuff in my area at the time. I’ve watched Verizon move from Rev. 0 to the faster Rev. A speeds and I enjoyed the bump. I’m actually enjoying it right now on the Lenovo X301, just as I did yesterday. And it was yesterday that I ran a speedtest from my home office in the sticks: the results are shown in the image from the Lenovo X301.

That’s when it hit me. I’ve never seen speeds that fast coming down on my USB 727 device in the home office. I have DSL at the house and a speed test there shows consistent speeds down at 2700 kbps, while uploads are around 550 kbps. The EV-DO is pretty darn close, but here’s the funny part. It wasn’t always that way at my home office. Sure, the service could have been tweaked in my area or there were few cows people using it, but I’m not so sure.

I’m actually starting to wonder (as silly as this may sound): aside from signal strength, can you get better 3G throughput depending on the hardware you’re running it on? I don’t mean the 3G card, I mean: does the 3G work better on some notebook configurations over others? Since I’m out right now, I can’t do any testing, but I plan to. From the same exact location, I’ll run several speed tests with the USB 727 in the X301 again, the MSI Wind, my MacBook Pro, and other notebook or two we have lying around. I’m curious if the 3G experience is totally independent of host hardware and operating system or if it might be faster on some platforms over others. Right off the bat, I suspect the 3G drivers in some environments are more optimized than others. Sound crazy overall or has anyone else seen better speeds on one device they have over another?

I’m actually hoping this has nothing to do with the Lenovo X301. While I don’t need WiMAX speeds on it, the more I use it, the more I like it. And the more I like it…. well…



I tried a Verizon EVDO PCMCIA card in a Motion M1300 and in a Motion LE1600 several years ago. It was a disaster in the M1300, didn’t work at all. In the LE1600 I got 1 bar and barely any bandwidth. As you probably know, both designs have the PCMCIA slot in the same place, are the same size etc… my LE1700 rocks with my Express Card HSPA in a PCMCIA adaptor.

Not apples to apples but the fact the LE1700 was designed with a built in HSPA capability (that they cripple in the BIOS so you can’t add the card yourself !@#$) might have led to them tightening things up even more…

If anyone knows how to beat the Motion HSPA BIOS lock I’d love a link… I’ve got the DELL version of the card in my XU870 but the Motion BIOS keeps turning the card off during boot up. I’ve written Motion to find out what cards they do support and they never even respond.


What about antenna layout? I’d imagine that the antenna in the X301 is a lot larger than in your USB dongle simply because there’s more room for it.


Vista does the optimizations but for XP the user must do the tweaking.

What is Cellco Partnership?


I consistently get better network speeds from my Tilt than I do the iPhone. If I find myself in need of a network for the laptop and I have the choice of tethering one or the other, it’s going to be the Tilt.


I consistently get better network speeds from my Tilt than I do the iPhone. If I find myself in need of a network for the laptop and I have the choice of tethering one or the other, it’s going to be the Tilt.

Kevin C. Tofel

Actually, I’d be more interested in checking out what optimizations were made (if any) to this X301. If none, I wonder if the speeds could be tweaked a wee bit higher yet. Considering the device has embedded WiMAX, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was already fully optimized, but you never know.


The short answer is: Yes, absolutely. Performance is definitely going to vary from device to device, configuration to configuration.

Do a search for “TCP Optimizer” on your Windows systems and see if you can’t use it to tweak your settings a bit on the slower systems.


System performance and optimization should factor in. I have noticed significant speed difference between Palm Centro and HTC Mogul using the same Sprint EV-DO connection. (Mogul was way faster) So I suppose hardware should have an impact on speed at least up to certain point.

Cody B

I think the network interface is getting a constant speed as long as it’s getting power. I do suppose the different devices have different USB controllers. One controller might be more efficient than others. The speed test is how fast the OS gets the file not the hardware. Again it’s just a guess. I’m interested in the results of your test.

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