You may remember that Verizon started running ads a while ago showing AT&T's anemic 3G coverage map. AT&T responded by saying "Our coverage includes 97% of the country!" In the small print on Verizon's ads they make it clear that AT&T does have coverage outside of 3G. In the small print on AT&T's ads they make it clear 3G isn't available everywhere.
What kind of difference does 3G really make? For American wireless users, the FCC is interested in knowing how fast your mobile broadband really is. The agency has released a free iPhone app, made by Ookla, who also made the free Speedtest.net Speed Test app for iPhone (there is also an Android version).
In case you're concerned about your personal information ending up in the servers of the Feds, note the app disclaimer: "Results may be pooled to analyze the quality and coverage of mobile broadband connections across the United States as part of a larger effort by the FCC to identify areas with insufficient or nonexistent access to broadband." More details can be found on the FCC's page here.
I downloaded the app and ran three sets of tests: on Wi-Fi (connected to DSL), on 3G, and on Edge. I ran each set three time: i.e. 3 times on Wi-Fi, 3 times on 3G, and 3 times on Edge, and then averaged the results to try to offset any temporary network glitches that would throw off the results. I also made sure I was using the same server for each test. (You can either let it select the best server based on your location or choose one manually from a list.)
Read on for the results...