Tested: Wireless Internet Speeds in San Francisco

By Will Smith

Will takes to the streets in the city by the Bay to find out how the Pre Plus, MiFi 2200, iPad 3G, and iPhone 3Gs' wireless Internet performs.

Do you ever wonder whether Verizon's cellular data service is faster than AT&T? So did I, so I spent a day driving around San Francisco, testing the performance of a handful of 3G and EVDO wireless Internet devices. The devices in question? A Verizon Palm Pre Plus, complete with Mobile Hotspot feature, a Verizon MiFi 2200, an iPad 3G, and an iPhone 3Gs, which served as our control group.  I tested at six different locations around the city, in both residential and commercial areas. 
 
To test upstream and downstream bandwidth, as well as latency, I used Speedtest.net. I've had good luck getting consistent results from that service over the years, and my tests in the field reinforced that. For the iPad and iPhone 3Gs, I tested using the Speed Test app, which is free in the iTunes store. For the MiFi and the Pre Plus, I connected to the mobile hotspots they create using a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and ran the Speed Test inside Chrome. I ran the test two times at every location on each device and averaged the results.  
   

 
the iPad was consistently faster than the iPhone, even in the same locations


 
As for the iPad 3G? It's delivering wireless performance that's certainly nothing to sneeze at.
 

Raw Data

 

Location 1 - Ocean Beach

 MiFi 2200 Palm Pre PlusiPad 3GiPhone 3Gs
 Latency (ms) 341350 315 336 
 Downstream (kbps) 440370 1727 656 
 Upstream (kbps) 15010 256 220 


Location 2 - Golden Gate Park

 MiFi 2200 Palm Pre PlusiPad 3GiPhone 3Gs
 Latency (ms) 109105 3433 523 
 Downstream (kbps) 700460 1746 405 
 Upstream (kbps)460 300  285 32 


Location 3 - Corona Heights Park

 MiFi 2200 Palm Pre PlusiPad 3GiPhone 3Gs
 Latency (ms) 8099 3059 534 
 Downstream (kbps) 450430 1228 639 
 Upstream (kbps) 12050 180 216 


Location 4 - Union Square Parking Garage

 MiFi 2200 Palm Pre PlusiPad 3GiPhone 3Gs
 Latency (ms)WNRWNRWNR WNR 
 Downstream (kbps)WNR WNR WNR WNR 
 Upstream (kbps)WNRWNR WNR WNR 


Location 5 - Union Square

 MiFi 2200 Palm Pre PlusiPad 3GiPhone 3Gs
 Latency (ms) 129104 711 373 
 Downstream (kbps) 820910 2105 546 
 Upstream (kbps) 470410 329 222 


Location 6 - Crissy Field

 MiFi 2200 Palm Pre PlusiPad 3GiPhone 3Gs
 Latency (ms) 105119 317 310 
 Downstream (kbps) 10001500 2031 1308 
 Upstream (kbps) 390490 278 257