Why Rain 5G has slower upload speeds than download speeds

MyBroadband recently tested Rain’s 5G broadband product, ordering and activating the service before performing downloads and speed tests.

We saw average synthetic speed test results averaging 500Mbps and reaching up to 700Mbps. Download speeds on Steam reached speeds of 536Mbps.

However, the upload speeds we measured were much slower – between 10Mbps and 20Mbps.

These are still pretty fast speeds, all things considered, but it does mean that Rain is not using the same amount of radio frequency bandwidth for upstream and downstream connections.

It raises the question: how has Rain configured its 5G network?

Rain’s 5G network

“The Rain 5G network in Gauteng is a 5G non-stand alone network,” the network operator told MyBroadband.

“This means it uses the 4G network for upload, should the router be far away from the 5G tower. Routers closer to the base station may use 5G.”

Rain explained that it has the following three network configurations available around the country:

  • 4G 1,800MHz in FDD
  • 4G 2,600MHz in TDD
  • 5G 3,600MHz in TDD

FDD stands for “frequency division duplex” and means that the transmitter and receiver operate at different frequencies. In general, this means your raw download and upload bandwidth are equal.

TDD is short for “time division duplex”, which means that upload and download signals are sent over the same frequencies at set time intervals. This lets the network dedicate more bandwidth to one or the other.

In this case, Rain has used more of the bandwidth it has available to increase download capacity.

Requiring speed tests before activation

Another interesting phenomenon we discovered while testing Rain’s 5G service is that it requires you to move your 5G router around the house and perform several speed tests before it will activate.

If you can’t get at least 80Mbps download speeds at your location, the service will not activate automatically and you must contact Rain for assistance.

Until you can activate the service, the only website you can reach is the Rain landing page.

“We want to ensure that all clients receive the service they are paying for,” Rain said when asked about this requirement.

“Also, given that it is a radio network, the placement of the router may significantly improve reception and performance. As you note in the article, the Rain 5G setup process assists our clients to ensure they get the best quality of service.”

Now read: The plan for 4G and 5G spectrum in South Africa

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Why Rain 5G has slower upload speeds than download speeds