Mobile broadband speeds jump in 2009

Average speed increased 68 per cent over 2008, IDC says

Mobile broadband networks saw a huge jump in performance in 2009, driven by greater download speeds and reliability, according to analyst firm IDC.

The company’s latest annual mobile broadband competitive analysis found that, compared to 2008, the average mobile broadband download speeds had increased some 68 per cent in 2009 to 2,941Kbps.

Upload speeds, thanks to a wider availability of HSUPA-enabled modems, were also significantly higher in 2009 - some 169 per cent – at 1,238Kbps. The average latency fell by an average of 71 per cent, from 447ms in 2008 down to 129ms in 2009.

The report also rates vendors based on scores across seven criteria: download speed, upload speed, ping times, latency, page loading, network quality/network fallback, and cost.

Detailing the vendor rankings, IDC Australia market analyst, telecommunications, Mark Novosel, said Telstra came out on top with an 87 per cent score, Optus 83 per cent, Vodafone scored 73 per cent and 3 Mobile scored 43 per cent.

“Telstra did well across all of [the criteria] and their only weakness was cost, being the most expensive of all [the providers],” he said. “Optus’ weakness was also cost… and there was some fallback to 2G in some areas and a bit of inconsistency in terms of performance.

“Ping times were very good across all networks this year, and for Vodafone, page loading, browsing and general experience was also good. Cost was good for both Vodafone and 3. Upload and download times weren’t too bad either… 3 was the only exception there and they scored poorly.”

Novosel said the results of the report were notable as not only did network speeds increase, but there had also been significant growth in the mobile broadband market in 2009 -- some 80 per cent based on mobile subscriber numbers.

As of the end of December 2009 Telstra had 1.3 million subscribers, Optus 672,000 subscribers, and Vodafone and 3, now reporting under the VHA brand, 670,000 subscribers.

With the increased speeds and reliability consumers would increasingly look to mobile broadband as an alternative to wired services, Novosel added.

“Certainly for low-end users – those consuming 5GB or less a month – mobile broadband can be a viable alternative, especially if they are paying line rental,” he said. “Even with naked DSL connection can work out to be about the same cost.” The results from IDC stand in strong contrast with recent results from broadband comparison site Broadband Expert which in April said that the average speed of mobile broadband connections in Australia was just half that of the average home fixed-line broadband connection. In comparing 1724 mobile broadband speed tests conducted between July 2009 and December 2009, the site found that the average mobile broadband speed was just 1.88Mbps, compared to the average home broadband speed of 3.5Mbps.

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