I'm in Phialdelphia for a family matter this weekend. It was ideal timing as my monthlong tour of duty in Europe and the UK had ended, and the timing of a few family and friends activities made for a perfect mid-point to my west coast return trip the end of this week in time for a BBQ on the beach next Saturday with some friends from the UK.
So being in Philadelphia meant a few things had to be done in advance beyond my hotel and car reservations. It meant bringing along two devices that normally I have no need for in Europe. My Sprint Overdrive with 4G and the Nokia N900 which has a radio inside capable of HSPA+ on T-Mobile's USA network. The only issue with carry both is they will only be at their maximum potential for me while I'm in Philadelphia this trip, but I'm looking forward to the day when both networks expand to more places (Note: I can use the Overdrive in Sacramento, Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle when I'm in those places) but as far as T-Mobile goes, their rollout of 3.5G+ over HSPA+ is just starting.
Oh, how I wish these services were everywhere, at least when I'm outside. You see, both are spatially challenged. While I'm getting great speeds on both, the T-Mobile HSDPA+ speeds are over 6 megs down and close to two megs up, when I'm outside. But inside, I'm seeing 2.5G connectivity making WiFi essential. With the Sprint/Clear/Comcast 4G network I have more in-building coverage, but when I was in the back of the Kite and Key Pub just a few blocks north of Comcast's HQ my speeds were only 3G and with only 20 percent of signal.
So here's my take......
Coverage is the key. While the speeds are great, the access to them is akin to finding an open stretch of highway on I-10 near Banning, CA on the way to Palm Springs, CA where you can push the pedal to the floor and know that your speed will be as fast as the car can go. Here in Philadelphia my "speeding" experience has been best on Clear, followed by Verizon, where the consistency of upload speeds has been best, and while I have seen more high speed downloads over AT&T, often in the 1.2-1.7 meg range from AT&T on the iPhone, Ma Bell's great grandson still needs an octane boost on its upload as those tests on the MiFi, iPhone and iPad have consistently been slower than Verizon and Sprint, and woefully lagging behind the Internet on Steroids like T-Mobile when I've had the coverage and the N900 with me.