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Virgin Media and Vodafone UK Top Mobile Broadband ISP Roadtest

Posted: 28th May, 2009 By: MarkJ
Comparison site BroadbandGenie has conducted an interesting test of Mobile Broadband operators by taking their services on a two day, 350 mile, train trip from Cambridge to London, then London to Bournemouth, and back again. Virgin Media came top overall, followed closely by Vodafone . The following USB Modems (Dongles) were used in the tests: Huawei E160 x3 ( O2 , Orange , Vodafone ), Huawei E169G ( Three (3) ), Huawei E170 ( T-Mobile ), Huawei E172 ( Vodafone ).

Genie did more than 10 speed tests for each modem at various points during the trip, including King's Cross and Bournemouth. The majority were done on the move in a mixture of rural and urban areas. Vodafone's was the only modem to complete all of these speed tests, with Virgin Media , Orange and 3 failing two. T-Mobile and O2 failed three tests each (fail recorded when no signal found).
Road Trip Downloader 2009 winner: Virgin Media
Runner up: Vodafone

Road Trip Uploader 2009 winner: Vodafone
Runner up: O2

Road Trip's Most Stable 2009 winner: O2
Runner up: Orange

Road Trip Coverage 2009 winner: Vodafone
Runner up: Virgin Media

Dongle Software 2009 joint winners: T-Mobile and Virgin Media
Downloading top speed: Taking O2 and 3 as a rough average performance (around 0.75Mb), Vodafone (1.2Mb) was twice as fast and Virgin Mobile (1.8Mb) three times as fast. T-Mobile's top speed (0.35Mb) was about half of O2/3, while Orange could only manage a top speed of around one sixth of the average (0.1Mb, just over 100Kb).

Upload top speed: Vodafone (0.55Mb) was a clear winner, and T-mobile a clear loser (0.08Mb), while there wasn't too much daylight between O2 (0.35Mb), Orange (0.3Mb), 3 (0.3Mb) and Virgin Mobile (0.25Mb).

It's not completely clear what the 'Dongle Software' award is and how it was judged, although overall the tests offer an interesting insight into the reality of Mobile Broadband performance. Vodafone's results are also very similar to what we found in our recent 'How to Use Mobile Broadband' article.
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