Vodafone 4G speed and rollout – Is it fast enough?

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Vodafone 4G

Vodafone 4G (LTE) network roll-out is currently happening all around Australia (what is a 4G network?) which includes the metro areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Wollongong, Gold Coast and Newcastle. The rest of Australia will follow.

Tens of thousands of Vodafone customers are among the first lot to taste the new Vodafone 4G network on their smartphones. Few selected journalists and bloggers were given the opportunity try out the new Vodafone 4G network for the past week, including myself.

With many Vodafone customers leaving the network due to the slow 3G network speed, can this bring back their previous customers (and also attract new ones)?

My first impression when I gave it a speedtest for the first time (using the SpeedTest app on my Samsung GALAXY S4) is “Whooshka!”. It’s fast. I wasn’t expecting this much of a performance, to be honest. I was on Vodafone network for around 10 years but moved to Telstra last year simply because I wanted to be in 4G/LTE network on my brand new iPhone 5.

During the tests for the past week, I’m pretty amazed because the speed was even faster than what I’ve been getting with Telstra 4G network (and I thought Telstra has the fastest 4G). Obviously, there are lots of factors to determine the speed at that exact moment in time, so the numbers may not always be accurate and can be caused by lots of things.

Vodafone 4G speedtest

Anyhow, here are some of my tests:

  • Inside my 13th floor apartment around the Southgate area, I got 54Mbps/28Mbps (i.e: download/upload speed) around 9 PM
  • In my 5th floor office (Melbourne CBD), the speed is slower, obviously, but I can still get around 28Mbps/6.5Mbps around 9 AM.
  • Re-tested on the same office at 10 AM however, gave me a whopping 62Mbps/25Mbps!
  • Re-tested again on the same office around 3 PM, I got around 30Mbps/2Mbps vs Telstra 4G 14Mbps/12Mbps on the HTC One – which is a bit weird. The upload speed seems to fluctuate inconsistently, although the download speed seems pretty solid all around.
  • In the corner of Flinders Street/William Street (Melbourne CBD) around 5:45 PM, I could get a solid 43Mbps/30Mbps again.

Some can actually get around 80-90Mbps download speed, with better speed overall compared to the other telcos.

(will add more and update this post)

All in all, Vodafone 4G is fast all around. The upload speed seems to fluctuate a bit, although I won’t complain there (I’ve only been getting less than 1Mbps upload speed at home on my ADSL2+).

I could even tether from my S4 with Vodafone 4G to my desktop and played my MMORPG and FPS games with great pings.

This is definitely a solid start for Vodafone and if they can keep this up (plus cover more areas in Australia), then we should see a handful lot of customers flocking back to Vodafone. The only concern people have is probably that there aren’t as many people on their 4G network just yet, so speed may get slower as the network gets congested. However, Vodafone has a better bandwidth all around this time, so the network should be fairly stable, if not as fast as it is now.

A good quote from Vodafone’s blog about the bandwidth and what it means:

Bandwidth, what the fuss?!

The easiest way to explain bandwidth is to compare it to a highway. A 20MHz highway will have twice the number of lanes to carry traffic than a 10MHz highway, meaning if you’re a tablet or smartphone user, you’re likely to experience less traffic congestion on a bigger, 20MHz highway.

Vodafone is the only telco in Australia to operate 20MHz highways in all states, giving it a future-proof edge over competitors. Over the course of the year, when more “Category 4” devices become available (smartphones built especially to perform at even faster speeds on 20MHz highways), customers who have these phones in hand will really fly!

We’ve seen some download test speeds in our labs up to 150Mbps. Whoa!

The reason why I stayed for so long at Vodafone last time was because they normally give better plans/contracts compared to the other telcos (cheaper, more data, etc). Vodafone customers who are at the end of their contracts should seriously consider sticking with Vodafone, unless if they don’t have the network coverage on where you live.

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