General observations on Vodacom LTE

Azimuth

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I feel like I've stepped over a line into enemy territory by posting here. :p I've long been anti the red team due to poor 3G performance and being unable to cancel my 3GB+3GB data contract. This is quickly changing though!

Context:

Prior to mid-2012, I only used MTN, trusty old yellow team. I enjoyed 4Mbps max at the office but did have service interruptions occasionally. I remember some days the connection was dead and, at one point, for a couple weeks. I mostly got by on 500MB per month. Ha! (This was a contract for the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 7", which came to an end)

Mid 2012 I was in the market for a shiny new Galaxy Tab 7.7" and *only* Vodacom had it - on a 2GB + 2GB contact (I set it to Top-up at the time). 2GB of data was a godsend. Speeds were pretty good and a bit faster than MTN but not always.

Sometime towards the end of 2012 we all (office) started to get really bad 3G service. Before 9am all was dandy but after that, everything fell over. Weeks became months. Little to no internet connection. This drove me up the wall and I resorted to using Telkom Mobile Prepaid. I got speeds of 10-15Mbps which was unheard of. I thought this would be my next service provider but I turned to the red team yet again... mid 2013 I gave the 2GB+2GB to my wife and took out a 3GB + 3GB Vodacom data only contract. Vodacom again seemed the best over time.

I moved to a new department at work and got speeds of up to 30Mbps. I was over the moon and at this point always had the need for speed - purely academic of course. This lasted 2 weeks I think and then the issues started! Data throughput went down to a trickle. The biggest issue was the 10-140Kbps upload speed.

Gah I spoke too soon. The infamous 9am cutover is still in effect.

815260697.png


With that upload, it cripples everything.

It was impossible to send e-mails. I started logging tickets with Vodacom and basically stopped using the service between July 2013 and December 2013. This was also partly due to both SIM cards going into a "No service" mode on our iPads.

During Xmas 2013 the unexpected happened. I bought a second-hand Vodafone LTE router (rebadged B593) and when testing that it worked properly with the above Voda SIMs, I was provisioned for LTE automatically and sent a confirmation SMS. I decided to again try the above Vodacom contract SIMs in our iPads. One worked on LTE right away, the other remained in its "No service" state. I ended up doing a SIM swap on both contracts and had the SIMs activated for LTE only, no other VAS service.

Today I'm using Vodacom "4G" exclusively - as is my wife and I'm really happy. At home I get around 3 bars LTE service. While roaming around Joburg, I mostly get LTE with effortless switchover to 3G and back to LTE. At the office, I've got full signal LTE. So where at the end of 2013 I still had really poor 3G (I did more speed tests as I motivated my quest for cancellation without penalty), I now have *perfect* LTE.

Speeds are good. Very good. Some people may think the speeds are no better than 3G until you check the upload speed and ping. Academically, Afrihost/MTN LTE is *much* faster but it hardly matters once you have a consistent 10Mbps download, 6Mbps upload and 30-50ms ping.

This thread will serve as a blog for my experience on Vodacom LTE going forward. :)

Footnote: I'd like to thank VodacomData for working on resolving my overcharged account for November and December 2013.
 
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Azimuth

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General observances on Vodacom 4G/LTE

Struben's Valley:

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Helderkruin:

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Sandton Central:

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Sandton Central:

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Sandton Central:

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Helderkruin/Wilropark:

731603407.png
 
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Azimuth

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Strangely, even with the above speeds, YouTube buffered quite a few times yesterday. General Internet use, email and TapaTalk is lightning fast.
 

Jola

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My Vodacom LTE runs at about 25% of the speed of Vodacom 3G. But the 3G is quite fast, so no complaints, except for the money that I wasted on 4G modems.
 

Azimuth

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General observances on Vodacom 4G/LTE

Ya look, I use Vodacom mostly at the office and the 3G service is abysmal. Switching to 4G has made the world of difference. I've heard that Vodacom, unlike other carriers, are sharing their 3G/LTE spectrum so it's not a proper LTE implementation. Somehow that 4G icon though, for me at least, makes Vodacom usable where before my SIM just lay in a drawer.
 

JohnJuniorV3

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Sorry to hijack the thread. Vodacom is my main service provider for my iPhone. I was exceptionally happy with their 3G service, getting speeds of 20-25mbps on Speedtest. 4G was then allowed on my iPhone and I wasn't wow'd by their service, only getting 15-20mbps :) The only thing that got to me was the ping. 20ms was absolutely amazing on a cellphone service. Then 4G was activated in Lonehill and I was getting 10-15mbps on LTE max. I was happy :D Then Afrihost came along... I was getting similar speeds but generally topped Vodacom.

http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/733260140
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/699700207
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/696181930
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/685531399
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/679145840
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/678247014
http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/i/678246722

MTN LTE was fantastic! :) Although I found Vodacom had more 4G coverage and was easier to pick up. Especially at home, I have to put my phone in an empty glass to pick up MTN LTE...

My conclusion was that MTN was faster with full signal. Vodacom kept the speed even with 2 bars and was easy to pick up :) So MTN is faster but Vodacom is better covered.
That's my opinion. Sorry if it isn't true nation wide. But I found Gauteng to have this result.

I noticed when doing a field test with my iPhone, Vodacom download bandwith was 5mhz and MTN was 10mhz, I don't know if this has anything to do with the speed?

I also find there are more people on Vodacom's 4G network than on MTN's LTE, MTN wasn't as user friendly when setting up LTE. Vodacom I popped in the sim and I had an SMS about the LTE network and then it was working :)

Oliver
 

sajunky

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Converted during Xmas! Miracles happen during Christmas, we know. :)
I noticed when doing a field test with my iPhone, Vodacom download bandwith was 5mhz and MTN was 10mhz, I don't know if this has anything to do with the speed?
Yip, definitely. Half speed. If it is true that they share the same band with 3G, they have to use 5MHz.
 
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cavedog

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Yeah I'm confused. How does lack of spectrum limit LTE speeds? Maybe I must do some research on spectrum cause it confusing to me....

Anyways just to contribute what @oliverwww said. I have the completely opposite experience. In Richards Bay and Empangeni which is relative small towns compared to others we have really good MTN LTE and its blazing fast @ 30Mbps+ with 8 - 10Mbps upload. Vodacom does not even have LTE coverage here however some 3G towers are fast....

I did a speedtest with a givehappy 100mb bundle I got for 50c [kinda cool] and got speeds of 15Mbps down and 1Mbps up. Very impressive. I guess its cause vodacom is kinda pricy on data with prepaid. You will need a contract if you want affordable data on vodacom.
 

sajunky

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Yeah I'm confused. How does lack of spectrum limit LTE speeds? Maybe I must do some research on spectrum cause it confusing to me....
At given technology (modulation method, etc.) maximum speed is proportional to bandwith. LTE can use 5, 10 and 20MHz bandwith. Not sure about 15MHz, Wikipedia can give answers.

In contrary what I wrote in previous post about 3G, HSPA+ rel.8 use something called "DC HSPA+" - dual carrier HSPA (42Mbps). It works by combining two 5MHz bands together, so it is possible and I know Vodacom use DC HSPA+, maybe not in particular area. If they share LTE with 3G in the area not DC HSPA+ capable, they will use 5MHz LTE.
 
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Azimuth

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Just to drop this in here, I migrated my open MyGig 3 contract yesterday to Topup, effective 31 Jan 2014, at R0.00 cost. No more need to worry about OOB shark or data I didn't use after this month. :D
 

sajunky

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Just to drop this in here, I migrated my open MyGig 3 contract yesterday to Topup, effective 31 Jan 2014, at R0.00 cost. No more need to worry about OOB shark or data I didn't use after this month. :D
True... as long as you don't load airtime. ;)
 

Azimuth

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General observations on Vodacom 4G/LTE

Vodacom LTE not doing too well with e-mail today.

With this speed:

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I can't download 4 * 2.5MB images in the email. :( I mean 5 bars LTE reception...
 
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Azimuth

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General observations on Vodacom 4G/LTE

Oddly, I cannot access the ZA iTunes Store. What is up with that....

It seems to me that Vodacom LTE is heavily shaped. First YouTube and now iTunes Store. Everything else is lightning quick (web browsing, mail, Tapatalk).

Edit: scratch that, there isn't an issue. It was a region switching glitch between US and ZA stores.
 
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SAdata

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What do you mean region switching glitch? I'm having trouble downloading attachments on email on my ipad as well

Oddly, I cannot access the ZA iTunes Store. What is up with that....

It seems to me that Vodacom 4G is heavily shaped. First YouTube and now iTunes Store. Everything else is lightning quick (web browsing, mail, Tapatalk).

Edit: scratch that, there isn't an issue. It was a region switching glitch between US and ZA stores.
 

sajunky

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What do you mean region switching glitch? I'm having trouble downloading attachments on email on my ipad as well
I'd like hear too.
Re attachments, it is bundled app mail problem. Attachments must be in the format approved by Apple (not sure if zip is approved) :). Use different mail program, combined with file managers, there will be no issues.
 

Azimuth

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General observations on Vodacom 4G/LTE

What do you mean region switching glitch? I'm having trouble downloading attachments on email on my ipad as well

Files are always PDF so it's a standard file type. PDF size was 14MB but the connection kept bugging out at 2MB. After many retries, the 14MB attachment went through.

Edit: "region switching glitch" refers to switching between US and ZA store. If you do it from Settings > iTunes & App Store, you get taken to a blank page until you kill the iTunes session and start a new one. This compared to switching stores within the ITunes Store app, right at the bottom of the page.
 
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Azimuth

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General observations on Vodacom 4G/LTE

Vodacom LTE continues to be very iffy with YouTube and large email file attachments. Everything else is zippy fast.

Edit: in comparison, Telkom Mobile on my iPhone sears through a 14MB mail attachment.
 
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Meg Sho

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I'm in Cape Town - Sea Point area - and my iPhone 5s is not happy with 4G. Constant dropped calls, loss of signal. I'm not sure what is causing the issue. Anyone else experience the same?
 

Azimuth

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I imagine my experience is a lot better than yours since I'm using an iPad that is incapable of cellular voice calls. LTE and voice, I've found, don't go nicely together. This conclusion is from my MTN and Afrihost usage while on MTN contract.

I'd only recommend LTE on a iPad or similar, and 3G-only on a phone.
 

Azimuth

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General observations on Vodacom 4G/LTE

Full frikken LTE signal and I cannot download a 3.7MB attachment. Gets stuck at 2.2MB.
 
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