Personal Performance Testing of Mobile Hotspots

As my fetish for all things radio frequency consumes more and more of my life, I find myself fantasizing about dropping hardwired internet connections and going mobile-only. There are two providers with "city towers" near my apartment, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. As I've traveled around the world, I rely on my hotspots and phones as hotspots for internet connectivity. I use various cell tower mapping apps and bandwidth testing apps. I can tell you from testing and from experience, Europe and SouthEast Asias vastly exceed bandwidth available in The States. There are a lot of variables here to control, time of day, day of week, users per tower, etc. However, this isn't a real statistically valid test, other than I ran all of the tests 5 times and took the average result.

First, I needed a consistent place to target for testing. Rather than trusting a third party benchmark server, I setup my own, is now public. It's a tuned linux server running only an iperf3 daemon for more accurate tests. It only allows one test at a time to not overload the connection, the tcp/udp stack, or anything else in the system. It's on a gigabit connection to the Internet as well.


I opted for 150 second tests, as it balances overloading the tower versus giving a test enough time to find consistency. The test is recording how much data can be pushed and pulled from my server. These are the average after 5 runs with the hotspot/phone in the exact same location every time. The command used in all tests is:

iperf3 -c -t 150


Netgear MR1100 on T-Mobile

Interval, Transfer, Bitrate
0.00-150.00 sec, 464 MBytes, 25.9 Mbits/sec sender
0.00-150.19 sec, 463 MBytes, 25.9 Mbits/sec receiver

OnePlus 6T on T-Mobile

Interval, Transfer, Bitrate
0.00-150.00 sec, 468 MBytes, 26.2 Mbits/sec sender
0.00-150.21 sec, 468 MBytes, 26.1 Mbits/sec receiver

Mifi 8800L on Verizon Wireless

Interval, Transfer, Bitrate
0.00-150.00 sec, 693 MBytes, 38.8 Mbits/sec sender
0.00-150.04 sec, 693 MBytes, 38.7 Mbits/sec receiver


The Mifi 8800L on Verizon Wireless wins without issue. Interestingly, the OnePlus 6T barely outperforms the MR1100 dedicated hotspot. This sort of makes sense because the 6T has a newer Qualcomm SnapDragon chip than the MR1100.

It turns out, the Verizon Wireless tower is half a block away, whereas the T-Mobile tower is 2 blocks away. Although, in both cases, I'm getting around -88 dB RSSI (signal strength). T-Mobile defaulted to Band 66. Verizon Wireless defaulted to Band 13.

I can think of plenty of ways to make this test more statistically valid, but practically, Verizon Wireless delivered 12 Mbits/sec more on average than anything T-Mobile.