Vodacom HSDPA 'slower than advertised`

By Dave Glazier, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 12 Apr 2006

One week after the launch of Vodacom`s high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), tests have shown that downlink speeds are far less than its advertised 1.8Mbps.

MyADSL founder Rudolph Muller, who tested the technology last week, says: "Most of the time the download speeds are around 564Kbps."

He adds, however, that in general the performance is good, and comparable to ADSL. On one occasion, Muller achieved 1.5Mbps.

A Vodacom spokesperson admits: "One should expect speeds of between 400Kbps and 800Kbps, with peaks of approximately 1.4Mbps... only under perfect conditions are HSDPA downlink speeds 1.8Mbps."

Testing periods

Muller conducted tests in Auckland Park late last week in quiet times at night and in the early working hours of the mornings. Over the weekend he tested in Centurion and Melville.

"In busy areas, and at busier times, the results may well be different," he adds.

Muller also conducted Skype tests over HSDPA, reporting that the quality was insufficient for use in the business environment, due to some breaks in the connection.

The general tests involved Web-based speed tests, latency tests, software-based downlink and uplink testing and file downloads.

The average international download speed on ADSL was 452Kbps, with HSDPA slightly better at 503Kbps. In the uplink department, ADSL proved faster than HSDPA at 249Kbps and 48Kbps, respectively.

Underlying infrastructure

Edwin Thompson, chairman of the Communications Users Association of SA (CUASA), cautions that it is too early to make any accurate analysis of Vodacom`s HSDPA offering, and adds that users have not provided CUASA with much feedback yet.

He notes that although HSDPA seems to offer great access speed, all such technologies are dependent on the underlying infrastructure, which will be the determining factor in the product`s success.

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MTN outlines broadband plans
ADSL 'to be overtaken soon`
Forget ADSL, think HSDPA