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The Boston Globe

Business

AT&T named top cellular service in Boston

AT&T customer Kelly Whittaker regularly stands outside her South Boston apartment just to get a cellphone signal or send a text message on her iPhone.

In fact, she recently tweeted: “I’m about to throw this phone through a wall.”

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So Whittaker was surprised to learn that her wireless provider had earned the number one spot for best overall cellphone performance in the Boston area, according to a company that compares wireless services. “The only reason I haven’t switched is because I am now relocked into a two-year contract.”

Even though AT&T has been dogged with a reputation for dropping calls in some places in the Boston area, a report scheduled to be released Thursday by RootMetrics found AT&T provides speedier data downloads and faster texting service than its local competition.

Only Verizon Wireless, which tied for best voice performance, came close to challenging AT&T’s superiority, RootMetrics said. AT&T data download speeds in the region averaged 21 megabits per second, the fastest rate the firm measured anywhere in the country.

By comparison, the report found that Verizon’s average data speed in the area was 11.7 megabits per second.

“What we’re trying to provide is information on how good — or bad — the coverage is,” said Julie Dey, vice president of marketing for RootMetrics, of Bellevue, Wash. She said the report is not funded by the wireless industry, but that RootMetrics does sell detailed information it collects during its research to wireless companies.

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Dey said the report might not reflect service in certain neighborhoods but is meant to provide an overall appraisal of wireless service. To reach its conclusions, the company performed 65,204 call, data, and text tests from Oct. 18 to 25.

RootMetrics attributes AT&T’s top billing to the company’s expansion of its high-speed 4G LTE network throughout the region. Overall, AT&T spent $375 million in the Boston area between 2009 and 2011 to boost the quality of its service.

“We are going to keep investing to make sure we get better and better,” said Kate MacKinnon, an AT&T spokeswoman.

As for Verizon Wireless, spokesman Michael Murphy said the company has been “recognized as the industry leader by numerous third parties” and that its high-speed service is the “gold standard of wireless technology.”

All the wireless providers RootMetrics tested — AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Metro PCS — did well when it came to texting service and call performance.

Michael B. Farrell
can be reached at
michael.farrell@globe.com.

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