First Vodafone 4G tests: It’s fast, but patchy



blog As you may have noticed, Australia’s third major mobile telco, Vodafone, finally launched its 4G mobile broadband network this week. The launch is late — quite late — compared to the mid-2011 4G launch by Telstra and the mid-2012 4G launch by Optus. But at this point, that’s hardly what’s important for Australian consumers. What we really need to know is how widely available the network is, and how it performs. Is it fast? Is it available everywhere you need it? Is it consistent? Is it secret? Is it safe? Wait, that’s another movie. OK, back on topic. This is important.

The best series of tests we’ve seen so far come from Reckoner, a new Australian technology site of excellent quality that was launched this month by a collection of refugees from another popular local site, MacTalk, and that we highly recommend you subscribe to. Reckoner reports about Melbourne coverage (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Telstra was the most consistent, with decent speeds everywhere. Vodafone had a few bad patches where speeds and latency were awful. So even though Vodafone has a higher average speed, it crapped out in a few places, which was countered by the significantly faster speeds during peak times over Telstra & Optus.”

And about Sydney:

“These speeds are frankly insane, easily beating the highest speeds I’ve reached on Telstra’s 4G network, and my own home ADSL connection … If Vodafone can maintain these speeds and this reliability, then I’ll be seriously considering switching when my contract ends.”

However, not everyone has been so impressed. Gizmodo, for instance, also found that Vodafone’s 4G network had high speeds, but also found it had patchy and inconsistent coverage:

“In-building coverage can leave a bit to be desired at times, with only one bar travelling with you from the street to your desk, bedroom or kitchen, and speed tests sometimes fluctuated pretty wildly from really great speeds to really awful ones.”

So far, it seems the tests pretty much demonstrate so far what it would be reasonable to expect from the early stages of Vodafone’s 4G launch. Due to its spectrum supremacy and the fact that there aren’t many people using the network yet, Vodafone’s 4G infrastructure does offer speeds that can in places be faster than those offered by Telstra or Optus. However, the telco is still lagging behind when it comes to the breadth of its network coverage.

All in all, I think these early reviews represent a very solid start for Vodafone’s 4G infrastructure, and perhaps also a reason to consider sticking with Vodafone for a little while if you’re still hanging on with the telco. It’s network infrastructure is getting better fast, and while we are still confident you’ll have a better overall network experience on Telstra, and secondly Optus, a lot of people don’t like to switch their telecommunications company very often. These tests are encouraging news for those still hanging in there with the big V.


  1. So this comes down to preference. Do you want consistent speed, or patchy speed with higher peaks?

    To put it a different way, do you prefer to drive 100 kms at a steady 50 km/h and take two hours, or do 75 km/h for 3/4’s of that distance, and 25 km/h for the remainder.

    Takes the same amount of time, but you get that patch of faster speed.

  2. You would expect the speeds to be great now when virtually nobody is on 4G with Voda!

    My experience as an early adopter with Telstra 4G was 30-50Mbps upload and download between North Sydney and the Inner West on Cityrail was pretty common.

    Now a bit over 12 months later (I think) and I sometimes find myself waiting for websites to load.

    • That was always going to happen. I’m surprised it is already this bad though – I thought it would take another 6 months or so before people were bouncing off the contention wall on Telstra 4g.

  3. The 1800MHz frequency rationalization is now complete in some areas and the additional spectrum has been brought online.
    Since LTE can only use 20MHz of bandwidth, it means that Optus and Telstra can now match Voda’s allocation in many metro markets.

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