We have all seen the Verizon commercial that shows Verizon’s 3G map vs. AT&T. Being a skeptical consumer, we have often wondered if this is true. Unfortunately, this is not a case of false advertising. While the Verizon coverage map shows 3G coverage, AT&T coverage map shows GSM coverage and not 3G coverage. When you click the link for 3G coverage (very small writing directly below the bottom right hand corner of the map), you get a very limited list of cities with no map of any kind. Take a moment to look at the two maps. Verizon 3G coverage envelops the whole country, while AT&T offers coverage only in large metro areas.
Now the question on everyone’s mind, why should I care if the network coverage is 3G or GSM? The GSM network can deliver not only voice, but also circuit-switched data at speeds up to 14.4 kbps. 3G on the other hand, in order to support mobile multimedia applications had to deliver packet-switched data with better spectral efficiency, at far greater speeds, up to 14.0 mbps (1000 times faster than GSM) on the downlink and 5.8 mbps on the uplink.
Now why should you care? The biggest problem with having such a small 3G network is any applications that use the internet (example: gadgets on your iPhone). Outside of the 3G network, the GSM network does not have enough bandwidth to support them, simply put they won’t work.
What is the impact to the iPhone 3GS? AT&T poor 3G coverage prevented the iPhone from making into the top ten gadgets of year.
What does poor AT&T 3G coverage mean to Minnesota residents? 3G service is only available in Minneapolis (this does include the metro area), Rochester, and St. Cloud. This leaves the Duluth area with no 3G coverage. See the map below (only the blue areas have 3 g coverage).