Vodafone puts 4G through its paces

Vodafone puts 4G through its paces

Summary: While tests of the Vodafone 4G network today show it stands well above Telstra and Optus right now, the company is putting it through its paces to ensure it can keep getting super-fast speeds when customers get their chance to join in June.

TOPICS: Telcos, 4G

A test run of Vodafone's 4G network on both category 3 and category 4 4G devices has shown that it can easily beat out both Optus and Telstra on speed, but the real test for the company will be putting customers on it.

(Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet)

The speed tests of Vodafone's 4G on Bondi Beach today were conducted on three different devices: The Samsung Galaxy S III, the HTC One X, and a Huawei category 4 dongle.

Vodafone first put the network tower around 500 metres from the beach at 10MHz, where the network achieved download speeds on the Samsung Galaxy S III of 61 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 29Mbps in tests conducted by ZDNet. The HTC One X achieved around 66Mbps down and 24Mbps up.

The telco then ramped up the network to use the full 20MHz of spectrum that Vodafone has in the 1800MHz band, where the download speeds across the HTC and Samsung devices ranged between 86Mbps and 109Mbps, with upload speeds of around 39Mbps. The Huawei dongle achieved download speeds of 150Mbps, and Vodafone executives were able to stream four HD movie trailers simultaneously.

The test, however, was in relatively good conditions, albeit indoors, and there were also very few others using the 4G at that time.

The real test for Vodafone will be whether these sorts of speeds can hold up when customers start using the network in June in a number of Australia's biggest cities. Vodafone is preparing for that now, and a number of Vodafone staff members have already been given 4G devices to road test the network over the coming weeks.

There will also be a limited customer trial before the full commercial launch, and ZDNet understands that Vodafone will be seeking out existing customers who represent the typical 4G user experience to ensure that the network holds up after launch.

Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow indicated earlier this month that at launch, Vodafone would offer 4G plans to customers at the same pricing as its 3G services, in line with how Telstra and Optus have priced their 4G services.

In February, Telstra announced plans to introduce category 4 devices following tests in Perth, where the company was also able to achieve 150Mbps download speeds as Telstra holds 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum in Perth.

Topics: Telcos, 4G


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Headed for a fall in 4G spruiking

    What Vodafone have done technically here is use the spectrum asset they have which is a lot of the 1800MHz band. They key of what they are saying is that because they have contiguous spectrum they are capable of faster speeds than the local competition. On one level that is true - the problem is that there are no handsets capable of utilising that as they need to be the Category 4 spec. So a Vodafone , or potential Vodafone , customer has zero opportunity to access the speeds that Vodafone seem so keen on highlighting. The other accuracy that is missing here is that with the new chipsets released for Category 4 you do not actually need contiguous spectrum (what Vodafone say is their advantage) as the chipset for Category 4 devices will aggregate within the band or across different bands therefore giving you the maximum LTE speed without the need to have 20MHz of spectrum in the same band. In english it means by the time customers have devices capable of using the maximum speed all carriers will have the same capability!! Following that of course as the 700MHz spectrum falls into the hands of Telstra and Optus the third carrier Vodafone will be left far behind. As this plays out the "tests" and marketing that are going on at the moment out of Vodafone will seem very hollow and has set them up for a real smacking from Telstra in particular.
    • practice > theory

      The fact that most people probably won't see the benefit of contiguous spectrum is pretty much irrelevant, the potential speeds on paper hold little relevance to the real world. No conclusions can be drawn until people are actually using it. So far is there evidence Vodafone's 4G will be slower? No, so let's just wait and see.
  • Bandwidth is bandwidth

    Telstra has 1800 20Mhz in Perth and 4G flies ... and only 10Mhz Sydney and Melbourne.

    Vodafone has 20Mhz in all capitals (çept tassie).

    Bugger all customers .. it'll fly.

    Plenty of Cat4 modems available.

    Imagine maxing out at 150Mbps.

    I think there'll be a flood of customers back to Voda if they're in a Voda 4G coverage area.
    Mouti Maremma
  • Consitent INDOOR LTE/4G coverage/speed vs home ADSL speeds is what counts

    Over 2013 and 2014 Telstra and Vodafone will be the only carriers who will have LTE on 1800MHz available nationwide which includes regional (Optus does not have LTE 1800MHz frequency outside of capital cities including none in Canberra). In addition Telstra and Vodafone will also be the only ones to also provide LTE on 2100MHz (a number of LTE handsets already capable and have combined LTE 1800 /LTE 2100 ). The most any one carrier can purchase of LTE 700 is 25MHz. In the future, if Telstra and Vodafone combine their LTE 1800MHZ and 2100MHz frequencies then they will have a lot more spectrum than LTE700 MHz hence both Telstra and Vodafone LTE customers will be able to enjoy very high speeds mobile broadband (nationwide not just capital cities) well ahead of LTE 700.

    It is expected Optus will launch their TDD LTE in July (their TDD LTE is only licensed for some capital cities) but none of the existing FDD LTE smartphones (LTE handsests currently provided by Telstra/Vodafone/Optus) will work on this network. None of the major brands are bringing out dual mode TDD - FDD LTE smartphones any time soon hence all of the Optus marketing hype will come out using TDD dongles (Optus TDD LTE will not work outside of capital cities as Optus do not have TDD LTE 2300MHz in regional areas). Most ipads, tablets, smartphone don't use dongles so benefit will be limited to very few...

    There are no announcements with smartphone manufacturers with APAC LTE 700 available in 2014 so if there is a smartphone in late 2014 it will be a no name brand smartphone. Majority of Australian customers are brand and quality conscious hence why 3 bands dominate 95% of the Australian market regardless if the carriers are offering half price smartphones. Anyone signing up to a LTE handset provided by Telstra, Vodafone or Optus, their handset does not have LTE700 hence when LTE700 is rolled out in the next 18 months none of the current handsets will work with this frequency again no customer benefit to wait.....

    Optus a year ago refarmed GSM900 to 3G 900 to compete against Telstra and Vodafone indoor coverage provided by 3G 850MHZ (unfortunately for Optus they only have 4.8MHz of 900MHz hence 3G is congested most of the times and or low 3G data speeds). Telstra and Vodafone are re-farming 3G 2100 for LTE 2100, to give them a lot more LTE capacity and combined speeds. Optus have not stated if they plan to do this or if so when it would be complete. In order to provide reasonable indoor LTE coverage and capacity Optus stated they will wait almost 2 years when APAC LTE 700 is competely released and available to provide capital cities with reliable in-building LTE coverage as well as any regional LTE footprint.

    I would rather sign up to 2 year LTE handset contract with Telstra or Vodafone and get decent LTE nationwide and then have to wait almost 2 years in 2015 when Optus (and Telstra) have purchased and deployed LTE 700. To added to this argurement none of existing LTE handsets will work with LTE700. Then when there is enough combined LTE 1800/2100/700MHz coverage in 2015 I will reconsider whether to re-sign with Telstra or Vodafone or Optus (if Optus has caught up). Hopefully by then Optus will improve on their lack of in-building 3G capacity/congestion as well as 4G LTE in-building coverage. We expect better in-building 'consistent' and reliable 3G from a number 2 carrier! Unfortunately ACMA is toothless as they do no force the carriers (as they do overseas) to publish 3G & 4G %dropped calls per cell, % congestion per cell, failed attempts and average daily data speed per user and per cell (which will compare the real mobile broadband speeds experienced by all users between carriers not just what is published by marketing). Lack of 'indoor' 3G coverage and broadband speeds is why 90% of disgruntled Vodafone customers switched to Telstra, 2 years ago (not Optus) and now with the new Vodafone network it will be an LTE tug of war between Telstra an Vodafone..this is probably why through word of mouth thousands of people are getting retention calls from Optus to re-sign....

    Once Vodafone officially launches 4G in June 2013 my bet is they will start to take customers away from Optus and price conscious customers away from Telstra. Given 4G/LTE has similar broadband like speeds and low latency to fixed home broadband ADSL2+, if you are using less than 5GB per month to surf the web and check emails why would you not use 4G/LTE tethering/hotspot with your 4G phone to your PC/ipad/tablet (or buy a PC/ipad/tablet with FDD LTE/4G build in)??

    90% of people don't care or don't understand the headline LTE speeds published the the carriers. If 90% of the people were receiving 25MBs to 50MBs download and 10MBs to 20MBs upload which is twice what they get from their home broadband ADSL and would be more than happy and content.

    So the carriers can spruik LTE all they like but the carriers which gives the most consistent 'indoor' LTE coverage in all cities not just capital cities and provides LTE in all the regional/towns/holidays destinations will provide the best 'consistent' mobile broadband customer experience and will be king with winning the largest mobile market share, highest ROI and highest share price.

    It will be game on for Telstra and Vodafone for nationwide multiple cities LTE on 1800MHz/2100MHz for 2013 and 2014.....
    • Nothing in region

      Vodafone are not launching 4G in regional Australia. And in fact Vodafone will be roaming on Optus in regional Australia from July for 3G with 4G explicitly excluded from the agreement.