3G SpeedTest: EV-DO vs. HSDPA in Phoenix


3g-speedsSince I have two 3G cards here on my travels to Phoenix, I did a quick speed test this morning. With so many variables at play (exact location, local tower coverage, others using the same pipe) this is simply a personal curiosity effort more than anything else. Someone only 50-feet from me doing the same test could potentially see the complete opposite result.

One of the 3G services is offering usable, but mediocre speeds, while the other one is nearly as fast as my home DSL.

Location-wise, I’m actually in my hotel at Glendale, which is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. And as soon as I plugged both modem cards in (one at a time, of course!) and checked the signal strength, I had a feeling what the results would be. My Verizon Wireless USB727 showed full strength while the AT&T USB Quicksilver offered four out of six bars.

At this particular location and time, EV-DO was smoking fast:

It was faster in every way than HSDPA: upstream, downstream and latency:

These EV-DO speeds make it feel like I’m working at home… except it’s warmer here and I know that the FedEx man isn’t about to knock on the door. Other that that, I’m nearly getting the same speeds on the road as my home DSL connection which is a lowly 3Mbps/768kbps account; the fastest that Verizon offers my area until they light up the dark fiber in my front yard.

Regardless of the many variables at play, I’ll be doing the same type of test in Las Vegas and San Francisco when I hit them during the first half of January. Again, it’s more of a curiosity thing since results can vary wildly. Mainly it’s because I don’t often have the chance to carry and test two 3G adapters.

If you’re on the hunt for 3G services, be sure to check potential coverage in the locational areas that you live in, work in and generally travel in. Check the coverage maps and try to test your service as much as possible within the first few weeks as you can generally cancel the service in the first month. I made the mistake once before of not really doing my homework and I won’t do it again. Not when we still have Early Termination Fees and lengthy commitment terms. That’s the beautiful promise of WiMAX: if you can find coverage, you can go month-to-month or even get a day pass.

OK, enough testing. Tyler and I are off to meet one of the long-time jkOTR readers for breakfast. I won’t mention his name since I didn’t ask for his approval on that. Regardless, he saw my Twitter status as we traveled to the southwest and pinged us before our feet hit the ground. So breakfast with a healthy dose of 3G and some play time with the MSI Wind netbook it is!



Kevin, what software are you using for your Quicksilver — the one fro AT&T? I’m using a Mercury and got the same speed when I used AT&T’s software, but when I switched to the one from Sierra Wireless, it was blazing fast!


Kevin when FiOS goes online your definition of “smokin fast” will be radically altered forever. I’m currently 30Mbps on Comcast and will soon be re-capped to 50Mbps.

After the re-cap to 50 I’ll have to face the serious issue of devices that I’ve been using limited to 802.11g not being able to fully exploit my internet connection. Now isn’t that a fine pickle? I’m already considering laying down some 100-base-T for the PS3 etc…

Of course an AT&T Mercury HSPA card can still seem like broadband if the only Internet access you have is Wifi at Starbucks. I loaned my card out to a friend and she burned through 4GB in a single day at home on iTunes. She is out in Port Orchard, WA where even Clearwire didn’t have service.

Have you thought about getting an antenna? I’ve got a 10db gain unit I picked up off eBay and it does a good job for me of making 4 bars back into 6 bars. Plus I can usually put it in the window and keep the laptop in my lap.


That’s pretty good speed there Kevin. I’m up in the Mammoth area and using my Blackberry Storm as a modem on my MSI Wind that I received for Christmas and ran some test also, I know everyone gets different and just thought I would let others know that if your in the Mammoth Lakes area you can get EVDO Speeds. 1252kbps / 462kbps. There was a few times I got all the way up into the 1900 for download and 700 up. The hotel has free WiFi but its actually slower than the Storm.

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