PC World data says AT&T’s 3G service more reliable on average than Verizon’s

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AT&T’s 3G service may be widely reviled, new data from PC World in collaboration with wireless analysis firm Novarum indicates that not only has Ma Bell done a lot over the course of the last year to shore up thew weaknesses in its network, but that in most cities it’s one of the fastest and most reliable networks around.

The study compares all four major U.S. wireless carriers’ in 13 “broadly representative” cities. Between December 2009 to January 2010, roughly 51,000 separate tests were then run.

The results are surprising. Using a notebook computer with a 3G card, AT&T has the fastest downloads in 11 out of 13 cities, and the fastest 3G uploads in all cities. As far as smartphones were concerned, AT&T had the fastest download speeds in nine out of thirteen cities, and again the fastest uploads in town.

No one’s arguing that AT&T has fast 3G, though. What people complain about is reliability and dropped calls. The good news there, though, is that AT&T’s reliability was above 90% in all but three cities… where Verizon’s reliability was ranked below 90% in all thirteen cities, and below 80% in eight of those cities.

Looking at PC World’s data, in fact, it seems that San Francisco is the biggest problem spot in AT&T’s network, with only a 55% reliability rating… which, given how many tech journalists are centered there, may well explain why we hear so much about AT&T’s woeful 3G service.

Is AT&T’s 3G service spotty? Oh, absolutely, especially given how many iPhones they sell. Even so, though, it seems like the overall complaints about AT&T’s 3G service may be being unfairly amplified.

What do you think? Where do you live? How would you rank your iPhone’s 3G service?

[via Apple Insider]