2degrees well ahead in 3G speed: analyst

Telco analyst Jonathan Brewer examines how much bandwidth each carrier allocates subscribers on their data network

In an analysis carried out by telecommunications consultant Jonathan Brewer, 2degrees was shown to be well ahead in the bandwidth capacity it allotted each subscriber on its mobile data network.

The more bandwidth per user, the better the user experience because speed is based on both technology and bandwidth availability.

Using the most recently published numbers of users on the network, Brewer undertook a detailed analysis using data based on information contained in the MED's SMART database. He says the findings below are based on the assumption that all subscribers are using the mobile network operator's 3G capabilities. For reference, the bandwidth available to a typical dial-up modem user is between 33-56 kilobits per second (kbps).


Subscriber base – 206,000

Technology - HSPA

Number of cells – 1443

Bandwidth per subscriber – 101 kbps download/ 2.7 kbps upload

“2degrees has in essence two networks - a GSM/EDGE and a 3G UMTS network. If you count only their UMTS network, they have 483 sites licensed, all in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown. As many users on 2Degrees do not have 3G capable phones, the actual bandwidth available per subscriber is likely much higher than estimated” he says.

Telecom XT

Subscriber base – 1,010,000

Technology - HSPA+

Number of cells – 4066

Bandwidth per subscriber – 85 kbps download/ 22.6 kbps upload

“Telecom XT is the easy network to evaluate. It was built entirely 3G from the start, and all of the supported phones are 3G enabled. All of its end users are capable of consuming 3G data,” he says.


Subscriber base – 2,465,000

Technology - HSPA+

Number of cells – 5617

Bandwidth per subscriber – 63.8 kbps download/12.8 kbps upload

“Vodafone is tricky because they have the oldest network by a long shot, although they have been aggressively upgrading it. They have the fastest new technology and the largest number of towers, but they also have the largest user base. If they contend that not all of their subscribers are 3G capable, then perhaps they can offer up a number of how many are?," he says.

Brewer is the former Managing Director of Araneo Wireless Solutions and still retains a shareholding in the company. Hie runs an independent consultancy called Telco2.

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