Think All 3G Networks Are The Same?

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Think All 3G Networks Are The Same?

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Ok kids, so it's been a long minute since my last blog post, but those of you who have looked at my blog in the past know I only post when I find something truly compelling to post about.  Well here and now I have found one of those truly compelling things to write about and I have been waiting to do so for a couple weeks now.  

3g networks, they can really suck sometimes.  

Yup, I said it, and I will do it again, 3g networks can really suck some times.  

Now some of you are reading this and thinking "what the hell is he talking about, 3g is awesome".  Well it is, if you live in a area that has real 3g, or more towers to serve it.  Actually I don't know how 3g technology works,  it's one of those geeky tech fields I haven't looked into to much, but one that I use just about every day of the week.  

About two years ago I purchased my first 3g cell phone from AT&T.  It was the Samsung Sync and it was a cool little phone. It had streaming video, email, a camera, and of course AT&T's 3g speeds.  Now being in Kansas City, we will take anything they throw at us and say is faster then what we had before.  So when I started downloading videos and attachments with my email much faster then I had previously, I was pretty happy.  

So there I was in my own little happy 3g world.  A year later I purchased a Samsung Blackjack II and my 3g experience was even more enhanced with Windows Mobile, IE mobile and all the other little perks that make PDA phones so much fun.  However all that happiness came to a screeching halt about 3 weeks ago.    

On December 15th I made a long overdue trip to South Florida to visit my family.  Upon my arrival in West Palm Beach I started using my Blackjack and almost immediately I noticed that the internet speeds were much much faster.  I could get video faster, large email attachments faster etc. etc..  I was still on the AT&T network, and as far as I knew it was the same 3g service, but again, it was so much faster then Kansas City.  As I traveled up and down the south east coast of Florida from West Palm to Ft. Lauderdale and all the way down to Miami and everywhere I went, it was faster, faster, faster then any speed I had gotten in and around the Kansas City metro area.  I thought to myself  "it could be just a fluke"  but I would soon prove myself wrong with that theory.

About 4 days after my arrival in West Palm I got on a plane in Miami and headed even further south and east to Recife Brazil to get married and meet the new inlaws.  Before arriving I had been reading that Brazil (actually spelled Brasil, only Americans spell it with a Z) was projected to have one of the top 5 economy's in the world by 2012 and that it had invested billions into upgradeing it's infrastructure.  Well when I landed and arrived at the newly built and very fancy Recife airport terminal I turned on my Blackjack with my new international rate plan and was shocked to see the 3g symbol appear.  I was connected to the Claro network and after seeing the 3g symbol I tested it out.  Web pages were loading about as fast as they did in Kansas City, and video's and email attachments seemed to download around the same as Kansas City as well.  So I started thinking, maybe I should start doing some real world test's. 

I used two different websites, one based in the USA and one based in Brasil to be the basic benchmarks. The first website is, a website dedicated to general local Kansas City trash talking and poops and giggles from what's left of it's once flourishing Electronic Dance Music scene.  The other website is the home page for the network I was currently on.  I figured that they would have a web page optimized to load fast on their own 3g network and would be a good test bed.  My only concern about the Syde-Sho site was the fact that it's web servers were located in Chicago. 

Using a simple stop watch initiated by my wife, we tested the speeds.  Claro, fully loaded about 2 seconds faster then Syde-Sho.  Considering that is located in Brazil I figured that was pretty good.  All the same I logged the exact times and two weeks later I was on the plane again heading to Miami.  

After arriving in Miami and getting settled in on our 4 hor layover I pulled out the Blackjack again and once again loaded up Claro and Syde-Sho.  Claro loaded about 4 seconds faster then it did when I was actually in Brazil, and Syde-Sho was fully loaded in just a couple seconds, totally killing its load time in Brazil.  

Soon I was on the plane again, this time heading to St. Louis MO where we had an 11 hour layover.  After landing and getting settled in our hotel room for the night I pulled out the Blackjack again and tried the same sites.  Both Syde-Sho and Claro loaded within one second of their times in Brazil and obviously much slower then Miami.  The next day we finally got on the plane and headed to Kansas City (minus one checked bag, those b******s :-(  ) and after arriving and getting home and into a somewhat settled point I tried it again.  The Kansas City load times for both Claro and Syde-Sho averaged out to be no less then 3 seconds slower then Brasil and sometimes up to a full minute slower.  

It should be noted that each time, before testing began, I would restart my phone and wait a couple minutes to ensure it was fully booted.  I didn't go to any other sites before or after, just booted, logged the time it took to fully load, shut it off and started again.  

So after all that shutting down, pulling out the old Casio stop watch and talking my wife into another boreing round of 3g testing I learned that just because you live or work inside a 3g network, doesn't mean you are getting the exact same thing AT&T is advertiseing all over the nation.  

I invite readers to do their own testing.  If you live or work in an AT&T 3g network, load up and and let us know the load times.  Please also note the city you tried it from, and what kind of phone you are using.  

  • 18 seconds on an HTC Touch Diamond (running a Custom WM ROM) using Opera Mobile on the Sprint EvDO Revision A network in Pullman, WA 99163 22 seconds on the same device/browser/network/location.

    I considered fully loaded to be NO bar left saying "loading" otherwise was more like 7 seconds, lol.