MWC: Vodafone’s Public 3G Performance

During the day I ran a number of traffic tests on the public 3G network of Vodafone on the Mobile World Congress exhibition ground and I have to say I am very impressed by the results.

Even around high time with the main hall packed with people communicating, performance with my speed test application was around 700 kbit/s with peaks at 1.2 MBit/s. And this with all the people around me communicating and showing mobile Internet applications. One presenter at the Nokia booth even told me that she has switched to 3G for her demos as the Wi-Fi network they have installed couldn’t cope for one reason or the other. Now that’s something…

On the technical side my trace mobile shows that Vodafone is using three 5 MHz HSPA carriers. If the other three network operators do the same, there should be 12 carriers or 60 MHz of bandwidth used at the Fira for 3G. Even in the busy Barcelona city center currently only one carrier is used by Vodafone.

The tracer also detected only a single neighboring cell on one of the three carriers used, so neighbor cell interference must have been low, another must for getting high throughput. It’s probably a micro cell setup, although I have to walk around a bit more on the exhibition ground to confirm that.

GPRS performance in Vodafone’s 2G network was equally good with Opera Mini downloading web pages very quickly. A good indication that enough timeslots were free for data use.

On the voice side: All calls I made today mostly to other people at the exhibition connected very quickly and I never got a network busy response or people complaining I was not reachable.

I don’t think there are many other places in the world with wireless data and voice traffic as high as at the Congress except maybe Manhattan. So it’s good to see that despite the increasing use for Internet connectivity, well planned and deployed networks can do the job.