Everyone thinks they know which mobile network is the fastest, which is the most reliable, and which has the best coverage in their area. Chances are that you have some pretty good anecdotal evidence about the correct answer for each question, but the simple fact is that someone should do some real testing to figure out which of Cleveland’s mobile networks is the fastest and if Verizon actually is more reliable than Sprint in Philadelphia. That’s exactly what PCMag’s Fastest Mobile Networks does each year.
Our colleagues at PCMag organized Fastest Mobile Networks (FMN) in order to quantitatively test which of the nation’s major mobile networks were the fastest in each segment of the country, which was the most reliable, and which had the best coverage. It turns out that this sort of testing is a huge undertaking, but by getting six cars, filling each with eight LG G2 smartphones, and then sending it on a predetermined course around the country, it’s possible to get a good idea about the status of the nation’s mobile coverage. These routes cover 30 major cities and all the areas between them, with a huge amount of data collected along the way.
The FMN car fleet is very good at what it does, but it can’t offer complete coverage of the country. That’s why the other component of Fastest Mobile Networks data is crowdsourced. Anyone in the US with a mobile device can load up Sensorly’s free app (available on both Android and iOS), take a speed test, and contribute their anonymized data to the test. There are other reasons to keep the app after you do the test, such as for coverage maps and data usage analysis, so you’ll be doing more than helping out the FMN team when you download it.
Fastest Mobile Networks 2014 runs from May 1 until the end of the month, during which time people will contribute their own data and the cars will be making their way across the country. You can follow the team’s progress at @pcmphones and get live updates from each driver. At the end of the testing period PCMag’s team will pool the data, choose each area’s best carrier, and then decide which of America’s mobile networks reigns supreme.
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