Friday, June 24, 2016

PC Magazine's Swimsuit Edition?

The verdict is in, and Verizon is the nation's fastest mobile network, according to PC Magazine's latest study.

That is, if we:
  • Rely solely on the results from tests done in 30 cities, and
  • Ignore the 59 million people living in rural America

Verizon "won" about half of the cities, with the rest going to the other three carriers -- AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

PC Magazine's report reads like a combination of the Sport Illustrated swimsuit edition ("Who's Hot This Year?") and recreation swim league, where everyone gets a ribbon.

To provide contrast, I thought it would be instructive to show what we're seeing in rural California, and profile not only speeds, but also latency, mean opinion score (MOS), and video quality.

Here are three rural locations, chosen randomly from the 1,990 locations we tested last month.

1. Location 1020: Cahuilla Reservation, California

AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all demonstrated low latency and high speeds. All three had high standard deviations for downstream speeds; only Verizon had low standard of deviation for upstream. All three appear to support HD-quality video for streaming from a west coast server for both smartphone and tablet, however only AT&T and Sprint were able to support HD-quality video for conferencing from an east coast server.

 2. Location 1768: Blythe, California

Mobile performance in Blythe was a mixed bag with both AT&T and Verizon demonstrating fast speeds, and Verizon upstream standard deviation falling below 20% of the mean. AT&T's latency was sub-200 milliseconds for both west and east coast servers. Both providers appear to offer voice-grade quality VoIP with Mean Opinion Scores greater than 4.0, but only Verizon appears to support HD-quality video for the smartphone.

3. Location 1011: Trinidad, California

The area north of Trinidad showed no connection for Verizon, and very slow speeds for all providers. AT&T was able to deliver sub-200 millisecond latency for both west and east coast servers; T-Mobile for west only.


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