Seeing a press release from a firm that highlights the positive aspects of its product is no big surprise. Vodafone in its press release that puts them at the top of the performance table is keen to point out that the company charged with carrying out this latest survey did its best to keep the testing impartial, e.g. buying hardware from high street stores and testing at a variety of locations around the UK. The results of the testing only being revealed to Vodafone upon completion of testing.
"When we responded to Vodafone’s tender it was made very clear that this test was to be done in independent conditions. We have been rigid in our methodology and did not disclose anything to Vodafone UK until the trial was completed. We have designed one of the most comprehensive assessments of its kind in order to generate a statistically sound report. As a result, we have been able to conclude that Vodafone‘s mobile broadband network is statistically significantly faster and more reliable that other operators to both download files and load web pages."Neil Smith, Vice President of LCC International
So how do the various mobile broadband services fair, the table below shows the data rate averaged out across all the tests and the time taken to download a 2 MegaByte file.
|Service||Seconds to download 2MB file||Download speed|
|Vodafone UK||13.54||1.2 Mbps|
On the basis of these figures it would seem mobile broadband has some way to go to win in the speed stakes compared to standard broadband products. We measured an average of 3,238Kbps for the UK in fixed-line broadband, with the slowest region being Northern Ireland at 2,258Kbps.
The testing also included web page speeds, which is as much a test of the mobile connection as it would be the providers cache and image re-sampling which is employed to reduce the amount of data traffic. Vodafone managed an average of 6.7 seconds with the slowest being Orange at some 25.67 seconds.
Of course the great advantage of mobile broadband is that you can use it when out and about, and for people who move home frequently it can avoid costly changes to contracts and activation fees. Given current performance indicators, while mobile broadband is selling very fast, it seems unlikely to unseat xDSL and cable broadband as the bulk of broadband sales.
Some 28000 tests were done in a 10 week period by LCC International, at 140 locations ranging from airports to hotels and railway stations. Just as with ADSL the key thing for any individual is what speeds they will get where you normally use the connection.