Vodacom's HSDPA is the best mobile broadband service in SA, according to a survey conducted by MyADSL and the University of Johannesburg.
The survey, which is in its second year, drew data from an online user survey, user-based performance testing and in-depth testing in a controlled environment, says Rudolph Muller, MyADSL founder and lecturer at the university's Department of Business Information Technology.
More than a thousand broadband users measured various aspects of broadband services, including performance, cost, reliability and support, he says.
"Advertised performances and claims by broadband operators are seldom an accurate measure of the true performance of a broadband offering, and this kind of research will give prospective broadband subscribers and current broadband users a far better idea of what they can expect from a certain wireless broadband service," Muller says.
Vodacom's HSDPA was rated the best mobile broadband service due to its superior performance and countrywide mobility, with an overall score of 84%, Muller says.
iBurst, also at 84%, came a close second, but lost some ground due to the lack of countrywide coverage that Vodacom enjoys, he adds.
MTN's HSDPA offering took third place with 81%, followed by MTN 3G at 65% and Vodacom 3G at 64%.
MyWireless, which was rated the best mobile broadband service in the 2005 survey, performed dismally this year, taking sixth place, with a 53% overall rating, Muller says.
The reason for its lack of performance is because the offering stayed the same, while MTN and Vodacom improved their service offering with the implementation of HSDPA. iBurst is also constantly improving its coverage, which serves to its advantage, he explains.
Muller points out that the second reason MyWireless did not do well is that Sentech discontinued new sales for MyWireless Classic, which offered a better value proposition than MyWireless Flexi.
The Flexi range has more restrictive usage limits, and for high-end users this can mean far higher costs, he adds.
Muller notes that Vodacom's major advantage over MTN was its exceptional nationwide coverage. MTN's HSDPA was, however, found to be the most reliable, with the company offering excellent customer service.
A section of the survey, which aimed to determine satisfaction levels among consumers, found users were very satisfied with MTN HSDPA despite it not being the best offering.
The respondents also ranked price as the most important criterion, followed by download speed, with reliability taking third place.
Consumers rated MTN 3G second and iBurst third. The survey also showed consumers are least satisfied with the MyWireless offering, as well as Vodacom's 3G offering.
Muller says another report, which will compare fixed broadband connections, will be released soon.