Back at CES we told you about Root Wireless and their mission of reporting on carrier network performance using data collected from real users. In case you missed that post, be sure to check out the video here.
An event like the SuperBowl puts a whole lot of cell phone users in place, so the folks at Root Wireless decided this would be a good instance to see just how well each carrier performed. You can find the whole report below, but here are some of the highlights:
- Verizon Wireless was the day's ‘loser,' recording far more connection failures than typical, while providing the slowest service at the game Sunday.
- Of the ‘Big Four' carriers, AT&T provided the fastest service - despite the expected congestion created in part by the iPhone's popularity. But like Verizon, it reported much higher connection failure rates than usual; attempts to connect failed 16% of the time.
- T-Mobile was a winner, far and away recording the fewest connection failures and providing transmission speeds on par with its everyday service. Sprint also performed close to par, relative to its everyday service. (Charts included with report.)
It's pretty interesting that prior to the SuperBowl three of the big four carriers issued press releases saying they would beef up their service for the game (read Verizon | AT&T | Sprint). Despite the high connection failure rate, it appears that AT&T's efforts paid off, given that they maintained speedy download speeds. As for Verizon... well... Root Wireless tells us they have never performed so poorly in one of their tests before. What's up with that?! Full Report below.
Root Wireless Release - Wireless Data Network Performance: Sun Life Stadium, Miami
More than 76,000 Fans at the Big Game put Wireless Data Services to the Test
The capacity crowd that packed Sun Life Stadium for The Big Game Sunday gave Root Wireless another opportunity to test the performance of wireless networks jammed by heavier than normal traffic demands. Monitoring network activity throughout the game, Root Wireless analyzed network speed tests designed not to determine absolute maximum data throughput speeds, but rather the actual performance experienced by smartphones users downloading and uploading data before, during and after the championship football game.
‘Big Game': AT&T Wins Speed Tests; Sprint, T-Mobile Perform Well; Verizon Slowest
Scouting the Miami marketplace prior to the week that lead up to the Big Game, Root Wireless learned that each of the carriers - AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon - provide competitive data services in the greater Miami community on any given day. On game day, however, data services provided by AT&T and Verizon Wireless reported significantly higher connection failure rates than usual, while services provided by Sprint and T-Mobile largely were on par with their everyday results.
- AT&T provided the fastest data downloads, averaging 348 kbps; its average upload speed was 68 kbps. However, AT&T also reported the highest rate of data connection failures: 16% of connection attempts failed. AT&T's average signal was 81% of full bars.
- Sprint's signal was the strongest, 96% of full bars, and its data service averaged 231 kbps when downloading, 68 kbps when uploading. Sprint's data connection failure rate was 9%, slightly higher than its typically reported failure rate.
- T-Mobile reported the fewest number of data connection failures, 3%. Its data service averaged 237 kbps when downloading. Its service was fastest when uploading data, averaging 126 kbps. T-Mobile's signal strength averaged 72% of full bars.
- Verizon reported significantly more data connection failures than usual: 11% of connection attempts failed. Furthermore, Verizon's transmission speeds were not in line with its typical performance, averaging 97 kbps when downloading data; its upload speeds averaged 58 kbps Verizon's average signal strength was 54% of full bars.
Loading its proprietary Root Mobile crowdsourcing application onto smartphones purchased off-the-shelf from each of the ‘Big Four' carriers, Root Wireless conducted stationary tests at a fixed location in the Sun Life Stadium parking lot. The company ran Root Mobile continuously on each of the four phones from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., February 7. The tests reported data transmissions speeds, cell tower IDs, network connection failures and other performance indicators delivered by Root Mobile. It is noteworthy that these tests differ from data transmission-speed tests conducted by other companies using PCs, precisely because Root Mobile was engineered to determine consumers' real-world experience using smartphones, not PCs. Also notable: results reported here are local to Sun Life Stadium. Root Wireless testing across several metropolitan areas has confirmed that all network performance is local, varying from neighborhood to neighborhood, and from service provider to service provider.
Sprint and T-Mobile were both winners on game day, providing data service that nearly mirrored their respective baseline performances, as established on more typical days. Though AT&T provided the fastest service when downloading data, it reported far more connection failures than usual. Verizon also reported a much higher rate of connection failures than usual and, atypically, Verzion's service was significantly slower than its competitors' services.
About Root Wireless
Root Wireless records objective data that measures carrier network performance using off-the-shelf smartphones, and reports right down to street level in specific neighborhoods. The Root Wireless charter is to provide a standardized, objective performance mapping service that helps consumers choose the service and smartphones that are best for them. Root Wireless gathers network performance data using commercially available smartphones equipped with Root Mobile, its proprietary crowdsourcing application that runs unobtrusively in the background as a service on RIM, Android and Windows Mobile smartphones.
Root Wireless does not work on behalf of any of the carriers. Its goal is to provide individual consumers with detailed network performance information personalized to the specific neighborhoods where they most often use their service. The company's initial findings have confirmed that there is no one ‘best carrier'. Which service works best depends upon where consumers actually use their phones. The Root Wireless performance mapping service is currently available in 15 major metropolitan markets; Root Coverage maps are accessible at http://reviews.cnet.com/coveragemap/.