For the most recent info, see the 2011 US Cellular 3G Speed Review
How fast is U.S. Cellular 3G speed?
If you look at one of their most recent press releases, you’ll find:
Downloads with average speeds of 768 Kbps…[and] uploads have an average speed of 200 Kbps.
The difference is like going from dial-up to DSL on your desktop”
While this is true, let’s put it in perspective. If you are coming from dial-up, then it will surely feel like DSL. However, if you’re coming from Verizon FiOS/fiber optics or high end cable internet, it might very well feel like dialup.
Let’s put this in context by comparing it to what we’re already used to:
|Connection Type||Average Download Speed||Maximum Download Speed||Average Upload Speed||Maximum Upload Speed|
|Dialup||40-50 kbps||56 Kbps||N/A||N/A|
|3G (EVDO/HSPA)||600 – 1400 kbps||3.1 Mbps||500 – 800 kbps||1.8 Mbps|
|DSL||2.971 Mbps||10 Mbps||512 kbps||896 kbps|
|Cable||2 – 4.8 Mbps||16 Mbps||3 Mbps||1 Mbps|
|WiFi Hotspots||1 – 3 Mbps||20 Mbps||N/A||N/A|
In my opinion, numbers are great but pictures are better (I’m visual):
Now don’t let the graphs fool you. 3G Mobile broadband is still quite good at getting the job done. The problem here is US Cellular’s 3G speed is a fraction of what you see above.
But isn’t it mobile broadband?
It is mobile broadband based on the same EVDO technology used by Sprint and Verizon.
The difference here is that Sprint and Verizon’s average speeds are 600 – 1400 Kbps downloading and 500 – 800 Kbps. That’s about 2 to 3 times the speed on either end.
If we include the ‘bursts’ of speed up to 3.1 Mbps (3,174 Kbps), then US Cellular 3G speeds of 768 Kbps start to feel lacking.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely an improvement over dialup, but it still has a ways to go when competing with the big three (Sprint, Verizon and AT&T) when it comes to speed.
Can you still get what needs to be done on US Cellular 3G speed?
It just won’t be supercharged. Know that going into the game and you won’t be disappointed.
Can you YouTube? Yes.
Stream music? Yes.
Download movies in high definition?
No. It’ll take way too long and you’ll go over your plan’s cap in one go.
Let’s put things in even better perspective.
While we can compare speeds to fiber optics, cable, and other mobile broadband carriers all day, it’ll help the most to know what you’re using at this very moment and then compare based on that. Once you figure out what your exact speed is right now, you can then decide if 768 Kbps from US Cellular will be around the same, slower or faster and acceptable for you. Use this speed test tool from speedtest.net to figure out what you’ve got right now:
Now that you know how your speed matches up to US Cellular, you can do one of 2 things. Either check out the Carrier Comparison for another carrier or see if US Cellular 3G Coverage Map has got you covered.