Vodafone is a little late to the 4G arms race. After Telstra launched LTE in 2011, and Optus followed suit with its 4G network last year, Vodafone customers are stuck waiting until June this year before they can access Vodafone's LTE network.
But at a 4G speed test for journalists in Bondi this week, Vodafone showed the ace it had been hiding up its sleeve. That ace is called bandwidth.
While Telstra has been offering between 10-15 MHz of bandwidth on its 4G network and Optus has been offering 10MHz, Vodafone has the capacity to offer 20MHz.
This extra bandwidth can see download speeds approaching (and occasionally exceeding) 100Mbps.
Feeling the need, the need for speed
Using an LTE-enabled Samsung Galaxy S3 and a 4G HTC One, Vodafone first showed speeds running with 10MHz of bandwidth. While it's important to note that there was no congestion whatsoever on the service, a typical test gave us download speeds of 66 Mbps and upload speeds of 25Mbps.
By comparison, we tested our Sony Xperia Z's speed using Telstra's LTE network to get download speeds of about 38Mbps and upload speeds of 16Mbps. Of course, there were other people using the Telstra 4G network, which could account for the difference.
After the initial 10MHz testing, Vodafone ramped things up to 20MHz in the back end. Using the same devices, speeds increased dramatically. Download speeds regularly sat around the 95Mbps mark, while upload speeds hovered around the 50Mbps mark.
On one occasion, a rival journalist even managed to crack the 100Mbps download mark.
A whole new category
Both the HTC One and the SGS3 are what are classed as Category 3 devices, which essentially means that they can only really hit a theoretical maximum speed of around 100Mbps.
Vodafone also demoed a Category 4 device, a USB modem from Huawei, using its 4G network. Transferring a large FTP file, the modem hovered around the 150Mbps download speed.
To exemplify this, the company showed four high definition movie trailers streaming over a single connection at the same time. While it was hardly a scientific example of the network's capabilities, it was impressive nonetheless.
Obviously, these tests are going to be quite different to the results seen when people actually start connecting to the Vodafone 4G network. But that extra bit of bandwidth Vodafone holds could help the company regather momentum after the difficulties of the past few years.
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