Best mobile broadband performers in Wellington named

TrueNet speed tests reveal best networks for bulk download are not best for browsing

A series of performance measurements of New Zealand’s three mobile phone networks substantiate initial findings that in the Wellington region at least, the best networks for bulk download and upload of data are not the best for browsing.

The measurements have been done by broadband measurement specialist TrueNet at a large number of points and times in the Wellington region from a moving vehicle. The tests are a sequel to a sparser series done earlier this year.

The vehicle was driven around Wellington harbour and the central areas of Wellington and Lower Hutt

Measurements were done with three mobile network devices, one dedicated to each carrier; this avoids interference problems, says TrueNet. The probes were mounted on a vehicle with a GPS device and took a measurement for each carrier every few hundred metres or within a time interval if the vehicle was stationary.

Only 3G signals were measured; the 2G network which is 2Degrees’ only coverage in some areas, was disregarded.

Vodafone has a second 3G network it calls “extended reach”, on a different frequency and this was tested where it was available.

The tests were made parallel as far as possible to tests of network performance done by telecoms regulatory body Ofcom in the UK.

Telecom showed up best in bulk download, with 62 percent of its tests exceeding 3 Mbps. By comparison, the UK’s best provider, O2, had only 42 percent above 3Mbps. At the slow end, Telecom produced 24 percent of results at 2Mbps or lower, Vodafone 43 percent and 2Degrees 55 percent. These were similar to Ofcom results, TrueNet reports.

Display of a test web page (the front page of the TradeMe site) was timed. Here, 2Degrees was marginally the leader, with 54 percent of tests displaying the page in four seconds or less. Telecom clocked 48 percent and Vodafone 26 percent.

A number of results on all tests did not finish, owing sometimes to lack of 3G coverage at the test point. Removing the DNF results scored 2Degrees at 84 percent of page downloads under four seconds.

All three New Zealand carriers have slow times on file upload, TrueNet records. “Strange peaks appear, suggesting upload packet shaping,” it says; this was also noted in Ofcom’s tests.

TrueNet recorded 87 percent of upload speeds in Wellington at less than 0.4Mbps, excluding the DNF results. Ofcom results in the UK for the same standard were better, at 74 percent. Telecom led overall in upload speed, but Vodafone provided the best single result by a significant margin.

TrueNet also tested national and international latency times. Here Vodafone showed up well, with best overall international performance and best single result on the national tests. Overall, however, Telecom led on national latency.

The full results can be read here.

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