Four networks, 150 locations and one sprawling city - Sydney’s most thorough testing of iPhone carriers reveals the winners and sinners for speed and coverage.
In what may well be Australia’s first independent test of the iPhone 3G across all four 3G networks, Telstra showed a clean pair of heels to its competitors but Vodafone emerged as the best value on a price-performance basis.
The two-day test, conducted by the team from the Byteside
online video show, plotted coverage at some 150 points scattered around Sydney from the CBD to the suburbs using four iPhone 3GS handsets (one for each carrier) and the Speedtest.net
Byteside’s Séamus Byrne told APC that while he assumed Telstra’s Next G network would come out on top, “it‘s still surprising when you see by just how far”.
“If you can afford to pay the difference, you get a lot
more for your money” Byrne says. “Not just in terms of speed, either. What was really impressive was the consistency.”
“Others would fluctuate results even in the group of tests at one location. Meanwhile Telstra almost never dipped below four-figure download speeds”, which redlined at a stunning 6.15Mbps while averaging a solid 2.68Mbps.
But while Byrne rates Telstra as “perfect if the price is of little concern”, he says “I would generally point to Vodafone as a price-performance leader right now.” The Vodafone-powered iPhone 3GS recorded peaks up to 3.35Mbps and an average of 1.28Mbps.
And while Three has the cheapest plans, the Byteside tests saw it lagging “significantly behind (the) other carriers”. While the ceiling was a respectable 2.29Mbps, average connection speeds across the two days of testing were a mere 629Kbps. “Three’s best single result was slower than Telstra’s average” Byrne notes.
Optus was, to quote Byrne, “very interesting – their results reflected the anecdotal experience we always hear about.”
“They were technically second best in final statistics”, says Byrne, pointing to a peak of 3.64Mbps and an average of 1.64Mbps. “But during testing they failed to deliver a result on almost one in ten occasions”, delivering “close to a 10% failure experience” over the two day period.
“These were usually grouped a few at a time, so it seemed to indicate windows of time when something was going a bit funny with the network.”
A more detailed breakdown, along with an impressive XLS spreadsheet containing all raw data – including date, time, and even GPS coordinates for each test location – can be found on the Byteside blog