In their latest wireless carrier tests, PCWorld declares AT&T to have the fastest 3G Wireless data speeds. The tests were conducted in 13 cities across the United States, measuring the download, upload, and reliability performance of the four major carriers. AT&T had the highest average download and upload speeds, while Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all trailed behind.

The increase in speeds seems to be attributed to AT&T’s efforts to improve their service toward end of last year. The pressure from new iPhone owners is part of the reason AT&T needed to improve their network. Speeds are also not the only thing that have improved, connection reliability on AT&T has gone up to 94% compared to 68% in PCWorld’s previous test.

However, perhaps the biggest reason for improvement is that 4G networks are right around the corner. Both AT&T and Verizon have plans to deploy LTE (Long Term Evolution) in the future, while Sprint already has already deployed their WiMax service to 27 cities in the United States. T-Mobile is also working to deploy HSPA+ upgrades to their network this year which should boost speeds up to 21 Mbps. All of these require carriers to perform an extensive backhaul to make sure they are ready to support faster speeds. AT&T might have the fastest 3G wireless at the moment, but you can be certain that the other networks will be eager to prove they are the best as 4G begins to reach customers.

The world has become increasingly connected thanks to mobile internet. These demands are just going to get more difficult for carriers. Even when referring to the tests, we can see that the average download speed is a dismal 1410 Kbps on AT&T. The average broadband speed in the U.S. might not be much faster, but we are no longer living in a world where people only use the internet for email. One can only hope that the transition to 4G will help meet the demands of customers in the future.