AT&T Speed Test: Testing Data Speeds in Three Locations
AT&T is one of the most popular wireless carriers out there, and many people (including me) have used it for years. But now it’s time to put AT&T to the fire and find out if the carrier deserves our loyalty.
The following speed test took place in three different geographic locations in Utah. Keep in mind that your data speeds could be completely different in your neck of the woods.
The faster the data speeds, the more quickly you can buffer YouTube videos, open Instagram stories, and Google the many questions of your soul. Faster data speeds mean less waiting for your phone to pull up information.
How fast is AT&T’s data?
- Suburban speed test result: 58.3 Mbps download speed
- City supermarket speed test result: 48.3 Mbps download speed
- Wilderness speed test result: 87.5 Mbps download speed
What are AT&T’s advertised speeds?
According to AT&T, 4G users can expect download speeds of 14–61 Mbps and upload speeds of 3–14 Mbps on average while using its wireless network. We gathered the data speeds of over 150,000 wireless users in 2020, and AT&T averaged a download speed of 28.9 Mbps. For context, AT&T’s data speed average was actually the lowest of the four major networks.
If AT&T really does have slower data speeds than Verizon and T-Mobile, then you can make a strong case that AT&T would rank worst among the best cellular provider overall. Let’s do some testing of our own to see what kind of speeds AT&T delivers at home in the suburbs, at the supermarket in the city, and a couple miles into a hike in the wilderness.
AT&T wireless speed test
To get a more accurate measure, we performed speed tests in a couple different places with different levels of coverage and congestion. This is how the results broke down.
Now let’s zoom in on each individual test and see how things looked.
Speed test from home in the suburbs
- Download speed: 58.3 Mbps
- Upload speed: 7.77 Mbps
That’s certainly a very high reading for our first round of AT&T speed testing. The 58.5 Mbps result is nearing AT&T’s advertised peaks. This makes sense because I often will get off my Wi-Fi at home in favor of my AT&T wireless connection due to its superior speeds. Take a look at how quickly I can pull up a YouTube video using my AT&T wireless connection.
You’ll notice there was a few seconds of buffering before the video started. I wish I could say that was a fluke, but it’s pretty common for a YouTube video to take a few seconds to buffer on AT&T’s network. You’re probably wondering, “Who cares about a few seconds?” We do. Some of the uncomfortable moments of my life are times I wanted to show someone a YouTube video and having several awkward seconds of silence pass as the video seemingly took forever to load. I know it’s happened to you too.
Speed test from the supermarket
- Download speed: 48.3Mbps
- Upload speed: 4.32 Mbps
We went to the most crowded place we could find a Wednesday afternoon, a Trader Joe’s grocery store, to test data speeds. This is how AT&T performed in a crowded supermarket.
As expected, AT&T’s download speeds dropped in a more congested network, but it dropped by only about 10 Mbps. For context, I ran the same test on an T-Mobile unlimited plan in the supermarket, and it performed half as well as it did in the home test. Expect AT&T’s speeds to dip in more crowded areas, but not to the point where you should notice a major difference. You can see in the YouTube test below that AT&T took a smidgen longer to load up than it did with the home test.
Speed test from a hike
- Download speed: 87.5 Mbps
- Upload speed: 14.9 Mbps
So far, AT&T has performed extremely well in our speed tests, but what about in the great outdoors? Data speeds can be a big deal while hiking and camping, especially if you need to call an Uber, or, you know, post videos to your outdoorsy Instagram account. Speaking of which, here’s my outdoorsy picture.
I was about three miles into a hike in the mountains of Utah, and AT&T somehow managed to get these amazing data speeds. Either there are some new 5G towers hidden in the mountains, or AT&T just offers amazing data speeds even off the beaten trail. Seriously, AT&T’s speeds were so fast in the wilderness that I should probably just start working there instead of at home.
As for the YouTube test, it was really par for the course for AT&T. You would expect for things to load up a little more quickly with nearly 90 Mbps of internet speed, but it’s still pretty fast.
AT&T speed test takeaways
In our experience, AT&T’s data speeds tested extremely well, consistently performing on the faster end of its data speed spectrum. For context, these tests were performed in tandem with a T-Mobile unlimited data plan, and AT&T blew them out of the water when it comes to data download speeds.
To be fair, AT&T did slow down at the crowded grocery store, but it wasn’t so significant an amount that you’d notice a big difference. And when you factor that AT&T pulled in a confident 87.5 Mbps during a hike, it pretty much seals the deal that AT&T gets our award for the fastest data download speeds until someone outperforms them. From our personal experience, AT&T performed way above expectations.
AT&T data plans
Now that we know how well AT&T performs on data speeds, let’s talk a look at the data plans. If you want a more in-depth analysis of AT&T’s value, check out our full AT&T review first. But if you feel like your data speeds are consistently slow with your current provider, or you want more data with your current AT&T plan, check out the data plans below.
One thing I want to make clear up front is that your experience with the same carrier and device might be very different. If so, tell us about it! We're gathering all the intel we can on these phones and services, and we want your input. Use the comments section below to chime in.
Get our opinion on AT&T’s overall wireless package.
Does AT&T make it amongst the best cell phone plans? Find out here.