Verizon Network Can Handle iPhone Stress, But AT&T’s Still Twice as Fast

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Data released yesterday suggests that Verizon’s network is handling new iPhone customers well, at least at this very early stage. But new data reveals that even though it can handle the load, it’s still far outclassed by AT&T’s network when it comes to mobile bandwidth speeds.

Ookla, the company behind Speedtest.net, gathers data every week about mobile network speeds using its free mobile iOS application. The past week was the first time Ookla was able to compare performance on Verizon and AT&T networks side-by-side on a large sample of devices. Here are the results of their findings during the Verizon iPhone’s first week of availability:

In the chart above, “devices” represents unique iPhones running the Speedtest app, and “results” represents the overall number of times a test was performed on those devices. “Download/upload” speeds are represented in kbps and represent the average over the course of testing.

Technically, the Verizon iPhone was always at a disadvantage because it accesses Verizon’s EV-DO Rev. A network, which tops out at 3.1 megabits per second down, while the AT&T iPhone is capable of hitting 7.2 down on AT&T’s HSDPA network. But the Ookla results underscore just how much faster AT&T is in everyday iPhone use.

It’s worth noting that AT&T saw a total of 9.3 million iPhone device activations in the last two quarters of 2010 alone, reinforcing my point yesterday that it’s early yet to go making conclusions about Verizon’s ultimate ability to handle a full-scale load of iPhone users.

Of course, if you can’t get online to take advantage of AT&T’s higher speeds to begin with, the issue may be moot. All numbers aside, the best iPhone is ultimately the one that works best where you want to use it.

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