So last week a little package arrived on my desk. It included a Hauwei WiFi router, a Vodacom sim card and 4G dongle. The idea was to take advantage of the Vodacom LTE Broadband offering and decide if it really is the best option for young entrepreneurs who require super speedy internet. First problem – my house doesn’t get LTE Broadband from Vodacom. To check if your area is covered you can check out the Vodacom coverage map here.
No problem. Any excuse to drink red cappuccinos at various coffee spots in the city testing out the data connection and determining – is Vodacom LTE Broadband really that fast?
Okay, first off – LTE (also known as 4G) is meant to be a faster data network. Vodacom brags that it can offer speeds that are three times faster than 3G. So for freelancers on the go or young small business owners this would, on paper, be the “ideal”.
The router didn’t need to come out the box, but I quickly got the sim card into the dongle and off we went. Set up is extremely easy and it is basically plug and play (following a few prompts and clicks). I threw my little Asus laptop and new dongle into my handbag (I do love my Asus, it really is the most ideal size and packs one hell of a punch) and off I went.
Now, the serious techies will have speed tests running and throw a huge amount of facts and stats at you. I do things a bit differently. First, I downloaded a photoshop trial and installed it after my friend Leanne desperately needed a new blog header edited. The entire exercise, which included downloading and installing photoshop, editing the header and emailing it to Leanne, using the Vodacom LTE Broadband connection, took about 20 to 25 minutes. Not too bad. Scientific? No. Did I take into account how many people in the area were utilsing the service provider and sitting on the server? No. It was fast so I was happy and it isn’t like I’m going to be taking my laptop to The Lumineers to do some work in between the opening acts’ set and theirs.
I did run a test though… and by test I mean an excuse for me to watch my favourite YouTube video. I opened up Google and started the timer. I then typed in YouTube’s URL and once the site was loaded I searched for “death by tray” (to make it a bit difficult), found my favourite Deathstar Canteen video and clicked the link. The video is just under 3 minutes and the process of searching to loading took less than 20 seconds. This was done in a coffee shop. No hanging and minimal load time. The YouTube video didn’t stick and played through entirely in the first viewing.
Again – is this scientific? No. Did I factor in other variables? No. But I’m currently holding down a day job, running a small consultancy and editing this site. I don’t have time to run ALL THE TESTS because I’m trying to get work done. This also means I don’t have time for slow internet. The Vodacom LTE Broadband connection runs at an average speed of 9Mbps when in an LTE coverage area. I also used the connection at home and just jumped on the 3G network. No problem. I still had decent speeds and was able to carry on as needed (by carry on I mean did actual work as opposed to watching YouTube videos).
So fast internet is fun but how much is it going to cost? To start – the sim, dongle and router are included in your package. Vodacom will deliver and, if you’re not very internet savvy, they’ll help you set up as well. Here’s a cost break down pulled from their website. If you use up your data allocation during the month there are top up options available:
So Vodacom LTE Broadband is fast and I definitely saw an increase in productivity when I was in coverage areas. The problem? My main base of operations isn’t in a coverage area and I don’t spend nearly enough time working from coffee shops to justify signing a contract. However, if I was in the network range I’d sign up yesterday… with a very good chance that I’d lose huge amounts of income and spend a considerable amount of my budget on topping up my data each month because of all the Lego stop motion I could watch. Speaking of….
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