AT&T claims to be the fastest U.S. 3G network provider

Claim was made based on a variety of tests conducted by leading third-party researchers, who tested the throughput speed and overall performance.

You need a 3G phone like the AT&T Tilt or the Apple iPhone 3G to take advantage of a 3G network. Dong Ngo/CNET Networks

So the iPhone 3G is coming out tomorrow. Are you ready? OK, that's more of a rhetorical question that those who've been lining up in front of Apple and AT&T stores in NYC and San Francisco would call me crazy just for asking. (Though, in fact, it's they who are crazy). The real question is if AT&T is ready. And it looks like it is.

It's only fitting that AT&T announced today that it offers the nation's fastest 3G network, by a significant margin. The claim was made based on a variety of tests conducted by leading third-party researchers, who tested the throughput speed and overall performance by downloading and using multiple applications and files at a time.

The company also announced that it has started doubling the capacity of its 3G markets and that by the end of the year, about half of all its cell sites will receive additional 3G capacity. This will bring the total 3G coverage area to 350 major U.S. cities and metropolitan areas, up from 296 currently. In addition, AT&T also has the largest global coverage, with roaming available in more than 200 countries, with 60 of them being 3G roaming.

Those impressive announcements above are the direct result of the investment AT&T made in network improvements and upgrades between 2005 and 2008 that totaled up to $20 billion. Much of this network investment has gone to building out the 3G broadband data network and deploying additional 3G coverage using the 850 MHz spectrum, which is now available due to the recent sunset of its older TDMA network. This spectrum extends farther and better covers the interior of buildings.

The biggest benefit of the 3G network is, of course, the high-speed data connection; however, it also allows for simultaneous voice and data activities. For example, you can instant message and talk to the same person at the same time with your 3G phone. Now that's really crazy.

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