MWC 2010 – First 3G Bandwidth Report

Here we go, day one of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and I've joined the crowd. The halls are filling up and the super heavily deployed 3G networks on the Fira are seeing their first heavy traffic of the day. Throughout the week I'll have a look at how Vodafone's network performs in different spots to get a feeling how much capacity is needed when tens of thousands of mobile enthusiasts meet in just a few exhibition halls. Why Vodafone? Because I bought a local prepaid SIM for Internet access and I expect their network to be one of the best.

When I was on the exhibition ground yesterday with 'only' exhibitors on site to get their booths ready I could get downlink data rates of around 450 kbytes/s in one of the cafés. The network was only lightly loaded. A good throughput but it's a bit low, I would have expected a bit more with a Cat 8 3G stick. Anyway, nothing to complain about really in the downlink. In uplink however, I could only get around 50 kbyte/s, an indication that HSUPA has not been activated in Vodafone's network yet!?

Today I am in hall 8, the main hall with the biggest stands and the biggest names in the industry all in one place. In total there are 4 UMTS cells of Vodafone in this hall with 3 carriers on the air. I assume the other 3 operators have similar setups but I'll have a closer look at them later. It's about one hour after the show has opened and the hall is already packed. At the Telefonica stand, my Vodafone network throughput ranges from 150-300 kbyte/s during a download. A good indication that there is some load on the carrier frequency my 3G stick has been assigned to and that the scheduler in the base station works on balancing the data bursts of the different users. Uplink speed is again at around 50 kbytes/.

And finally the web surfing quality is good, pages are instantly downloaded and VoIP calls over Skype just work fine, both in uplink and downlink. Very good!