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Carrier Networks Weather Heavy CTIA Traffic

Thu, 05/10/2012 - 5:29am
Monica Alleven

Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) continued testing the wireless network performance of the major carriers in and around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The tests provided insight into which carriers were best prepared to handle the full influx of traffic as CTIA Wireless 2012 was in full swing. GWS performed indoor testing using a SwissQual Ranger backpack solution and completed drive-testing along the surrounding roadways using a SwissQual Diversity unit (installed in one of GWS’s test vehicles).

Inside the building, the additional traffic load did not increase the failure rate on any of the voice networks, according to Habib Huq, director of operators for GWS. 

Impressively, over all three days, GWS indoor testing did not reflect any voice call failures on any carrier, he said. During download data throughput tests, Verizon’s LTE network still led but throughputs were reduced by ~40 percent from Monday’s testing. T-Mobile’s DC-HSPA was still somewhat faster than AT&T’s LTE network, but it was hit with ~20 percent throughput reduction from Monday to Tuesday. 

However, by Wednesday, T-Mobile throughputs caught up to be on par with Verizon. AT&T’s throughputs improved by over 10 percent each day but were still ~15 percent slower than Verizon and T-Mobile on Wednesday. Sprint’s EV-DO throughputs were steady during all three test days but were still significantly less than the other networks.

GWS says that over Tuesday and Wednesday, Verizon struggled with data network quality by failing to complete eight task requests, while T-Mobile failed three tasks and Sprint failed one task. AT&T proved to be the most reliable data network, successfully finishing all data tasks on both days.

Along the roadways, AT&T and Sprint successfully completed all voice calls on both days. Verizon failed one of their calls on Tuesday. However, T-Mobile was the least reliable network, failing seven voice calls. Verizon and AT&T’s LTE networks continued to dominate the download network throughput tests on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

GWS reports that T-Mobile and Clear continued to deliver download throughputs noticeably slower than the LTE networks, and Clear’s throughputs were cut by more than 30 percent from Tuesday to Wednesday. Sprint’s EV-DO improved by 50 percent (from Tuesday) but were still the slowest. As with its voice network, T-Mobile also struggled with over 10 task failures. Sprint, AT&T and Clear all had several failures each. The Verizon network was the most reliable data network on both days, GWS says.   

Over all three days of testing, AT&T was the only carrier to provide a perfect voice call success rate along the roadways. As expected, the Verizon and AT&T LTE networks provided the best throughput, at about double the rate of T-Mobile’s DC-HSPA and Clear’s WiMAX. Verizon had the fewest data network failures, according to GWS.

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