Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub launched their commercial LTE service at the 2012 MyBroadband Conference on 10 October.
“LTE represents a major jump in mobile connectivity capabilities. The service has the potential to operate at more than double the speed of any existing mobile connection currently commercially available in South Africa,” said Joosub.
At the launch event Vodacom showed real world speeds of well above 60Mbps with upload speeds of over 10Mbps. Local latency was just above 20ms.
One can assume that these tests were performed without other LTE users on the network, which is one of the significant factors influencing mobile broadband speeds.
The following image shows the performance of the live LTE performed at the launch of Vodacom’s LTE service.
Vodacom LTE coverage
At the Vodacom LTE launch, Joosub said that 70 LTE sites were live in Johannesburg and Midrand.
In a 2 hour LTE war-driving session in Vodacom’s coverage area the “4G” symbol, which indicates real-world LTE coverage, appeared fairly infrequently.
Initial testing showed that Vodacom’s LTE coverage is currently very patchy, even in areas where one would expect to receive a good LTE signal.
However, this is expected to change over the next few weeks. Joosub said that while they currently only have 70 live sites, they are planning to increase their coverage to 500 sites by the end of the year.
Real world speeds
Real world mobile broadband speeds are influenced by many factors, including signal strength, the number of people using a site and the transmission capacity servicing a site.
Live tests in various locations around Johannesburg – using MyBroadband’s speed test server – showed download speeds ranging between 10Mbps and 35Mbps. Upload speeds typically ranged between 5Mbps and 16Mbps.
While the download and upload speeds were encouraging, the most impressive part of Vodacom’s LTE service was the low latency which was achieved.
Local latency to MyBroadband, which is hosted on MTN’s network, was around 20ms while international latency to the UK and US ranged between 200ms and 300ms. Such low latencies were previously only associated with fixed broadband services like ADSL and fibre.
Vodacom’s new LTE service did not fail to impress. The download and upload speeds were good, and the latency was good enough to support most online services, including online gaming.
However, consumers will be well advised to make sure they get a fair LTE signal before investing in a new LTE dongle to get these higher speeds.