Companies often overstate 3G cell speeds

Feb 18, 2009 By Steve Alexander

Q. How do 3G (third generation) data networks of the cell phone companies compare when it comes to Internet speed?

A. The 3G cell speeds can vary because of distance from a cell tower or how many other people are using the network. But they're usually less than the advertised maximum speed.

Last spring, a Computerworld magazine study of cellular broadband speeds for laptops found AT&T was the fastest. But it also found average 3G network speeds were less than half the "peak" speeds.

In the test, AT&T's average download speed was 755,000 bits per second (47 percent of its peak speed), Verizon Wireless' average download speed was 592,000 bits per second (46 percent of peak speed) and Sprint's average download speed was 494,000 bits per second (41 percent of peak speed). That put all three below the definition of broadband used by research firm Gartner, which is a download speed of more than 1.5 million bits per second.

Another 2008 comparison (www.mobile-broadband-reviews.c… oadband-reviews.html) shows AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in a dead heat for average download speeds. (T-Mobile lagged behind.) But Verizon was given the edge for "bigger bursts of speed nationwide."

As recently as last month, Gartner said average cellular broadband speeds are often 300,000 to 700,000 bits per second slower than advertised top speeds.

Bear in mind that these speeds are constantly being increased, so who's faster is a moving target.

Q. Recent news reports talked about a computer worm that could affect 30 percent of Windows-based computers. How can I tell if my Windows XP system has been protected?

A. If you have antivirus software, it should be protecting you against the Conficker or Downadup computer worm. (A worm is a self-copying program that works without you taking any action.)

Most antivirus software is updated online frequently, so the chances are that you've been protected since late November, the month the worm was discovered. To make sure, click the antivirus icon on your PC's toolbar to see if the software is up to date.

Even though you're probably safe, the worm still infects an estimated 3 million computers worldwide. Microsoft, whose Windows software was affected, is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the worm's creators.

___

(Steve Alexander covers technology for the Star Tribune. E-mail your technology questions to steve.j.alexander(at)gmail.com or write Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488-0002. Please include a full name, city and phone number.)

___

(c) 2009, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Visit the Star Tribune Web edition on the World Wide Web at www.startribune.com
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Students trust technology, but have concerns about privacy and robotics, poll shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The future face of molecular electronics

39 minutes ago

The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular components. In these highly efficient devices, ...

Recommended for you

Privacy groups take 2nd hit on license plate data

16 hours ago

A California judge's ruling against a tech entrepreneur seeking access to records kept secret in government databases detailing the comings and goings of millions of cars in the San Diego area via license plate scans was ...

Scots' inventions are fuel for independence debate

Sep 17, 2014

What has Scotland ever done for us? Plenty, it turns out. The land that gave the world haggis and tartan has produced so much more, from golf and television to Dolly the Sheep and "Grand Theft Auto."

White House backs use of body cameras by police

Sep 16, 2014

Requiring police officers to wear body cameras is one potential solution for bridging deep mistrust between law enforcement and the public, the White House said, weighing in on a national debate sparked by the shooting of ...

Chinese city creates cellphone sidewalk lane

Sep 15, 2014

Taking a cue from an American TV program, the Chinese city of Chongqing has created a smartphone sidewalk lane, offering a path for those too engrossed in messaging and tweeting to watch where they're going.

Coroner: Bitcoin exchange CEO committed suicide

Sep 15, 2014

A Singapore Coroner's Court has found that the American CEO of a virtual currency exchange committed suicide earlier this year in Singapore because of work and personal issues.

User comments : 0