[Info] Three Mobile Network – Speed Tests & Info

I’ve been wondering two things: Firstly, exactly how quick is data on a mobile phone these days, and how quick are the different connection methods? For example, 3G HSDPA vs 2G, or vs 4G. Some quick and easy tests are required with the following hardware:

  • My HTC Hero (Supporting 2G and 3G HSDPA)
  • Three mobile network (Supporting 3G HSDPA on 2100mhz)
Three’s high speed mobile network (which they called 3G Broadband Zone) covers around 30-40KM from each metropolitan area. Inside this zone, if your phone is capable, will connect at HSDPA speeds (Android phones will display an H icon to indicate), which can be anywhere between 1.8-14mbit/s (info here).
Outside of this zone, a few things can happen. Either your phone will revert to a 3G roaming function, or 2G roaming. Alternatively, you could lose reception completely. If I disable the 3G on my phone, it reverts to a roaming state, which I believe uses the Telstra network. Data charges in this zone are not covered by your plan.
So for this test, there were 3 data sources: 
1) Full connection with high speed 3G [HSDPA] 
2) Roaming on 2G (similar to if you’re in the countryside), and 
3) On a local wifi network (as a baseline). 
Signal strength was -63 to -85 dBm (approximately 75-90% of indicator bar), with phone setting on GSM Auto (PRL). Note that because of the unstandardised nature of signal and battery indicator bars, they should not really be used as anything more than a rough guide. 
Tests were done with Speedtest.net application (which is also available for iPhone and other platforms), using Canberra server. Tests were run 5 times each and then averaged to obtain the results. Test results as follows:
3G High speed network – 
Download – 41.5kB/s (332kbit/s) 
Upload – 86.7kB/s (693kbit/s)
Ping – 147.4ms
2G Roaming network –
Download – 4.3kB/s (34kbit/s)
Upload – 3.6kB/s (28kbit/s)
Ping – 649ms
Home wireless network (TPG ADSL2+)
Download – 167kB/s (1336kbit/s)
Upload – 85kB/s (680kbit/s)
Ping – 104ms 
Some observations:
  • On 3G, download speed is equivalent to a light-medium grade ADSL1 connection. Upload speeds are more than double download speeds, which is interesting. Browsing and streaming media access can be done comfortably.
  • On 2G, speeds are poorer than a 56kbps modem. But for emergency data access, it does the job. Pulling down a web page heavy in media will take a very long time.
  • On other wireless devices in the building, speeds range from 600-800kB/s (~6.4mbit/s), which indicates that even with plentiful bandwidth, the phone’s wifi radio can not keep up with heavy data loads.
  • For Android devices, you can switch between 3G/2G modes in Menu=>Settings=>Wireless&Networks=>Mobile Networks=>Use Only 2G Networks
  • At this point, I can only test with Three’s network. I will hopefully be able to collate more data once I have access to other networks. 
Thoughts? If you are able to spare a few minutes to run some speed tests, I would be interested to know how fast your mobile network is (whether Three, or Telstra, Vodafone, Optus). Please supply network signal strength as well if possible.
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