Saturday: T-Mobile Winning Carrier War at SXSW

Live: follow us on twitter @opensignalmaps for hour-by-hour updates.

The difference between the best and worst phone carriers at the SXSW tech festival is a staggering 1600% right now.

We have been measuring the signal all day from the convention center in Austin and it’s been surprising just how dominant T-Mobile 3G has been.  Their signal has been the most consistent and fastest all day with download speeds at around 800kbps all day. When you compare that to how everyone else is doing it starts to look pretty impressive. AT&T has been wobbling all day with connectivity  dropping to zero or periodically hitting 50kbps.  Verizon is slow but consistent at around 100kbps. Sprint 3G is almost non existent while Sprint 4G is momentarily fast and then inaccessible.

We have been augmenting user data with a bank of phones just next to the coffee stand in the convention center which are feeding data back to us constantly throughout the day.

I guess it’s tough on anyone to try and deliver top class cell service here at SXSW with pretty much everyone hammering their data plans hard.  You could almost see this as a kind of Olympics for the carriers with a lot of their best users all trying to use the carriers at once from a relatively confined space. It’s interesting to see how they are coping with 14,000 early adopter types all in the same place.

If you are at SXSW right now help us map the carriers by downloading the app for Android from the marketplace  Or come and find us by the coffee stand at the northwest corner of the convention center and tell us your cell connection takes of joy and woe. We love to hear them.

About Sina Khanifar

Co-Founder of OpenSignalMaps.
This entry was posted in Events, OpenSignalMaps Android App, OpenSignalMaps Website, SXSW. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Saturday: T-Mobile Winning Carrier War at SXSW

  1. Mutiny32 says:

    How are you able to correctly gather data from Sprint 4G? The app doesn’t identify WiMax signals; all it shows is the device being in CDMA Rev.0 state when it is connected to 4G. Since Sprint doesn’t use 4G for voice, the CDMA radio is always on for calls and SMS regardless of an established WiMax connection. Regardless, the app doesn’t even recognize a WiMax signal currently.

  2. sina says:

    Hi Mutiny. We’ve got two Sprint Nexus Galaxy phones here at SXSW, and there’s a toggle that allows us to turn on and off 4G. So one phone is running 4G, and the other isn’t.

    • Zach says:

      Spprint doesn’t have a Nexus device and you didn’t answer the question.

      • james says:

        Hehe he means Galaxy S, not Nexus S… unfortunately we don’t have access to the mythical 4G Nexus!
        We’re actually running a slightly modded version of the app here. We’ve actually got the app detecting wimax internally at the moment, it’s just not showing it in the user interface yet.

      • Sorry guys. I was pretty exhausted after a day at SXSW, and clearly didn’t read my answer (or the OP’s question) through. I did mean the Samsung Galaxy S.

        We had WiMax signal at our location, the 4G logo showed, and was animated showing data transfer. When the CDMA radio is active for data, the 3G logo is animated, and that didn’t happen. So based on that, I think we can say that the data was likely running through the WiMax network.

    • Joe says:

      “Sprint Nexus Galaxy” 4G phones? As in unreleased, rumored Nexus 4G? :)

  3. Billy says:

    Too bad T-Mobile is running out of spectrum and 3G is about to become a thing of the past. T-Mobile has no 4G spectrum. Bye bye T-Mobile.

  4. Torin Brown says:

    No T-Mobile 4G available there?


  5. Stephen Franz says:

    It’s interesting that you were able to get great signal strength there.

    I just wish T-Mobile could get a signal at my home, You would think that they would have a few cell tower in the Richardson, TX Telecomm corridor.

    • Mike Jones says:

      Last I checked, Richardson gets great TMO reception. Maybe not around the ATT buildings on Central Expressway though…

      • Diana says:

        The *best* speed I ever got on my Vibrant was 5.78Mbps at the Ali Baba on Campbell and 75/(Central Expressway), which is *smack dab* in the center of the telecom corridor and basically right across the highway from the AT&T buildings.

        Stephen, are you testing from inside your house? Is it shielded? Because I have a friend who lives on Spring Valley & Coit, and she went from an AT&T USB modem for her laptop to a T-mobile rocket, and her speed *skyrocketed*.

  6. Will says:

    Maybe it’s because TMo has less users than the other 3 carriers!? It’s also a function of dynamic network usage on the network affecting other users if you understand engineering. AT&T and Verizon obviously is going to have a shit-load more users than TMo and Sprint. TMo has the lowest number of US subscribers per marketshare % effectively too.

  7. Hannah says:

    Doddle and the film “Florida” are throwing a party tonight at 6:30! Come see us after the South By Southwest party at Paradise Restaurant on Sixth Street, or visit us at Booth 123 to find out more!

  8. Jared Levan says:

    I have found that despite getting full bars with T-Mobile during SXSW, I am only receiving 1 out of 3 of the calls that are made to me. Additionally, the bandwidth available to me either via EDGE or HSDPA+ on my T-Mobile G2 (HTC Desire Z) is extremely limited. I would not be so hasty to call them a winner here.

  9. Kim Owens says:

    I highly disagree. T-mobile’s cell service at SXSW has been horrible (I have a MyTouch 4G). Even worse than my AT&T experience in 2009. I have had “no network available” messages too many times over the last week. It has prevented me from being able to upload photos to Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, WordPress and Tumblr, gaining access to those sites and checking in at various venues, thus preventing me from doing my job in the media. Even the receipt of text messages has been prohibited. I’m about to pay to get out of my contract and switch to Verizon. My business partner has had no issues at all with her Verizon service. And no, I’m not being paid to write this and have no affiliation to Verizon. Just a disgruntled T-mobile customer.

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