The differences between AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile

MSNBC’s Scott Taves asks, “What are the differences between the mobile Internet technologies and networks of AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, the four major carriers in the United States?”

“3G, as in iPhone 3G, is an abbreviation used for the third generation of cellular phones and networks. Starting in late 2006, Verizon Wireless and Sprint made a transition to 3G EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) directly,” Taves explains. “Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS) is the standard that AT&T and T-Mobile are employing for their 3G services, although AT&T is using a faster variant called High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA).”

“Marin Perez,’s associate editor and mobile industry expert, said Sprint’s EV-DO 3G network, in its updated Rev. A form, transmits data at speeds up to 3.1 megabits per second… Verizon Wireless also uses a ‘fast’ 3G, EV-DO Rev. A network,” Taves reports.

“AT&T, exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the United States, uses UMTS/HSDPA, with peak data speeds of 3.6 megabits per second. By the end of the year, AT&T plans to have 3G coverage in 350 U.S. markets, including the 100 largest U.S. cities,” Taves reports. “‘AT&T has the handset everyone wants, but their 3G network is still smaller than Sprint’s,’ Perez said.”

“Having 3G networks in place, however, does not guarantee that wireless customers will want to use them… ‘If it ain’t easy, it ain’t going to get used,’ said analyst Pete Daily of Stratecast, which specializes in telecommunications market analysis. ‘Apple raised the bar for ease of use and set-up for a smartphone with the iPhone,’ meaning it now ‘becomes the benchmark for smartphones, to have consumer success,’ he said,” Taves reports.

“Sprint has at least a two-year head start with 4G technology. AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have all pledged support for LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, a road map for the 4G phase of the UMTS standard. The first commercial deployment of LTE networks in the U.S. is not expected until 2011,” Taves reports.

Much more in the full article here.


  1. “The differences between AT&T;, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile”

    s/b “differences among”

    “What are the differences between the mobile Internet technologies and networks of AT&T;, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, the four major carriers in the United States?”

    Between is correct. See the difference between the two?

  2. In 2011, IF we reach 4G speeds, South Korea, Japan, and yes, China will make us the laughingstock of slow networks. They are videoconferencing NOW with their little phones.
    I saw where a news station tuned in LIVE video to an accident scene, all coming from a passer-by’s cellphone. I think it was Japan. The quality wasn’t super, but it was doable.
    Apple would have an iChat device now if At&T;could handle it. They simply can’t. What if everybody was iChatting instead of just talking and surfing…AT&T;’s network would bomb.

  3. Sprint already has 4G networks up and running. I beleive it’s only in Chicago and D.C. at the moment. 4G is a ginourmous step forward. Huge bandwidth and range. The best thing about it though, it wont suck up batteries like the current 3G phones do. Like the article says….Asian countries are already using this as their standard….we are WAY behind.

  4. @OJ, what do you mean China? They haven’t even announced the 3G licensees yet. And, China’s own TD-SCMA 3G version has been problematic, so bad, that they may just drop it.

  5. I’m a late bloomer. I don’t even have a cell phone. There’s too many other phones around that I have access to and I don’t need to call anyone every half hour, and tell them where I am at that very second. So, I’m coming at this from a different angle than most people.

    I can see some people needing cell phones (sales people, doctors, maybe cops), but the vast majority of people are simply addicted to their toys, and can’t stop playing with them. Hop onto a city bus and watch everyone start texting or dialing up their phones; and what do they say? Oh, I’m on my way home now.

    The amount of commercials for mobile phones is incredible, and when I go to the mall, there’s a ton of kiosks and booths of people selling various phones and plans. People pay a ton of money for all of these services, and there is so much fine print with these contracts. You would think that with all of the competition, that there would be very cheap plans and handsets available; with companies competing over services. But no! The prices are still high all around. The phone coverage is still spotty, and people still disconnect and lose their service at inopportune times.

    Also, there is the question, would you be willing to pay a few dollars less for a slightly slower connection than the competition?

    We’ve all read where the phone companies were given special tax incentives to develop faster Internet and telephonic services here in the U.S. These companies squandered their money and did nothing to improve our infrastructure. The dynamic sales of the iPhone have really been a major force to influence AT & T to vamp up their infrastructure.

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