Many analysts note that pure network speed is not important unless a carrier offers devices that can take advantage of 4G speeds that are generally 10 times faster than 3G.
Several analysts said users probably won't detect the difference between 5 Mbit/sec or 12 Mbit/sec speeds, even within a streaming video application. Other factors such as how many users are near a cell tower will become more important, they said.
"Unless it is 3 a.m. and you are standing next to a cell tower with nobody else awake, most devices won't hit the high advertised speed," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.
As such, analysts said consumers should learn to take advertised wireless speeds as well as claims that they offer a 4G network with a grain of salt. "A rose by any other name has just as many thorns," Gold said. "It's all market spin. The average user couldn't care less about speeds that are that much different."
Gartner analyst Phillip Redman has long criticized how T-Mobile describes the performance of its networks. On Thursday, he noted, "There are lies, damn lies and marketing. In the end the network availability, quality and price will drive success."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com .
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