Comment: AT&T wins this upload/download race. In the pre-LTE October report, AT&T registered download speeds of 3.7 megabits per second and upload speeds of 0.9 Mbps.
In the March study, AT&T downloaded at 20 megabits per second and uploaded at 9.1 Mbps, ahead of Verizon (13, 6.6), T-Mobile (7.5, 1.6) and Sprint (2.5, 0.7).
At these speeds, it would take a Sprint or T-Mobile subscriber up to 45 seconds to post a Facebook photo and less than a second for an AT&T subscriber to post the same photo. AT&T and Verizon subscribers can stream a high-definition video with a 30-second buffer — the process or downloading data before starting the video to prevent disruption — where a Sprint subscriber would need a 2-minute buffer and expect some dropped frames.
AT&T, in RootMetrics' tests, downloaded 10 emails in two seconds, slightly faster than Verizon (2.8 seconds). T-Mobile (5.9) and Sprint (7.0) were the laggards. AT&T (0.4 seconds) and Verizon (0.3) also loaded Web pages and apps much faster than Sprint (1.6) and T-Mobile (1.8)
Comment: Each of the carriers downloaded texts in less than 10 seconds at least 90 percent of the time.
Home Phone:The Best Service
A reader survey in the May issue of Consumer Reports rated two phone services that make calls over the Internet — Ooma and Vonage — over any cable or satellite service available in this state.
The rankings, with services available in the area that finished among the 25 rated services:
Ooma (Voice over Internet Protocol)
4. Vonage (VoIP)
8. Cablevision (cable)
10. Cox (cable)
15. AT&T U-verse (fiber-optic/copper cabling)
19. Comcast (cable)
24. AT&T (landline)
Comment: Ooma is a Bottom Line favorite, too, that requires only two things: an Ooma Telo base station ($150, sometimes discounted to $120 and even $100 for a refurbished unit) and broadband Internet service.
The free basic service includes calls in the United States, caller ID/call waiting and voicemail. Monthly taxes should run less than $4. If you want to keep your current phone number, porting it to the Ooma system costs $40. After that, your phone service is free.
It's a better deal than Vonage, where the most popular service costs $9.99 a month for three months, then $26 a month. Because these VoIP services are linked to your broadband connection, when you lose Internet in the house you also lose phone service.
Consumer Reports notes that buying a "triple play" package from a cable or satellite provider that includes television, phone and Internet services still might be cheaper. Not in this case: After buying an Ooma base station, TBL's cable bill dropped more than $30.
Some households save even more money by dropping in-home phones altogether while using mobile phones exclusively.