Telkom SmartBroadband Uncapped LTE impressions

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Telkom SmartBroadband Uncapped LTE

ADSL, is dead. These days, if you want to be able to download content at blisteringly quick speeds and maybe share a stream or two, then you’re going to need a new form of internet that is capable of handling high speeds on the down and the upload. ADSL doesn’t cut the mustard, due to limitations that make it useless for most uploading applications these days.

That’s not to say that ADSL is completely obsolete thanks to competitive prices in the market, but you want something better. And then there’s Telkom, with their current LTE uncapped deal which sounds too good to be true. Both Alessandro and Darryn hopped on it. Here’s what they thought about it.

Darryn

First off, here’s how the deal went down. Telkom offered Uncapped LTE on a 24 month contract. That included the necessary SIM card, a Huawei router, an outdoor Poynting antenna and installation. Supposedly, you’re able to get peak speeds of up to 100mb/s on the deal, if you’re in a decent enough area on the coverage map, with upload speeds that stretch from anywhere from 5mb/s through to 25 even.

Prices are currently sorted by a set of tiers, based on your area. The first 50 people in your zone get the contract for R599 a month, the next 50 for R699 a month and the final 50 for R799 a month. Not bad, for any household wanting to ditch a landline.

And I got, most of that. Once the telephonic contracts were sorted and the papers were signed, I got the fancy router and antenna. Here’s my current speed test from the time this post was written, of my wired, external antenna results:

Speedtest (2)

And using the router’s own paddle antennas, this is what I got:

Speedtest (1)

There’s a few caveats here of course. For starters, I’m in Port Elizabeth, which has just begun setting up a proper LTE network, when compared to the more advanced infrastructure of Johannesburg or Cape Town. I’m also at the edge of the coverage map apparently, with my neighbours terribly massive palm trees regularly disrupting my line of sight signal. Which is odd, considering how much better the signal usually is when I have the router’s antenna attached.

It’s also windier than the back bench at a bean-eating contest, and I’m already making plans to build a special bracket to raise my outdoor antenna higher for a better signal, and hopefully not get struck by lightning in the process. With the wind howling right now, my wired connection seems to have dropped dramatically from yesterday’s results, which were an easy 20 down and 5 up on the speed tests.

There’s also been a bone of contention with the Fair Use Policy that Telkom has, which measures in at 50gb. Realistically, this will only affect people who torrent the hell out of their connection. If you’re looking to watch YouTube in HD, sit down for a binge-session of Netflix or keep your games updated and download a few new ones, then relax. You’ve got nothing to worry about. I’ve personally done a ton of the above in excess of that FUP limit, with no throttling noticed at all. As I said, the FUP is most likely a deterrent for folks who get their entertainment from more illegal avenues.

But it’s a mostly stable connection so far, and I’m loving it. Downloads are now flying for me, usually around 6-8gb per hour. Considering that I was usuign a 4mb ADSL line previously, this is a massive jump for me so far. As for uploads, I’m living the streaming dream. Setting up a YouTube or Twitch stream has been easy, with most uploads being of a medium HD quality.

Of course, it is supposed to be better. And I’m looking forward to that day, especially when Telkom decides to properly help me, instead of making me wait half an hour to speak to an office drone who doesn’t actually know what he or she is doing. But for now, I’m pretty happy. I could be happier though.

Alessandro

Hailing from the same internet hell that Darryn did, I too was previously on a 4MB connection that suffered from all manners of attenuation issues. See there’s this thing where if you’re line is so far from an exchange that it’s just never stable – and it’s unsurprising that lines such as that never get moved. So with the promise of FTTH being a distant one on the horizon and seemingly nowhere else to turn, I took the plunge into Telkom’s Uncapped LTE.

And I seriously can’t go back now.

Just like Darryn I’m on the cusp of my coverage map, which means speeds close to that glorious 100MB/s mark are way out of reach. That said, my signal is mostly very good. On weekdays I’m able to maintain a steady speed of greater than 30MB/s down, and around 4MB/s up. On weekends that soars into 60 and 7 respectively, which doesn’t really make that much sense since there seem to be a whole eight other people in my area on the same LTE network.

It’s a facet of LTE that I’ve come to both like and loathe – it’s just unpredictable. One day you could be getting blazing fast speeds, while on another gloomy one you might wish you were back on a 10MB ADSL line. For the most part though it’s the former, and at the R599 I’m paying per month I can’t really complain.

I mean, would you with speeds like this?

LTE SpeedTest Sandy

Unfortunately, Pingtest.net no longer seems to have any local servers, so we can;t provide ping and jitter information – but it all seems to work just fine. The internet gets a fair bit of use in my household too, with concurrent Netflix and Hulu streams on the go at once (we kicked DSTV to the curb) and the odd game download happening in the background. There’s simply no issues with either at all, and I’m fairly happy that my fears around the Fair Use Policy have been set aside. Telkom promised that only Peer to Peer, NZB and Torrent traffic would be throttled, and they’ve certainly stuck to that. Xbox Live, PSN and Steam traffic is uncapped, as it says on the tin.

It could be better at times though. Right now I’m currently engaged with Telkom’s customer service to try and remedy some issues I’m having with my external antennae, and that’s proving to be a nightmare in itself. See LTE isn’t like ADSL – when it goes down there’s really not much you can do about it. And being a new package and all, there seems to be confusion at Telkom itself as to how to deal with it. These issues are few and far between, but when they occur it’s hard to ignore them.

But it’s at those times I remember the woes of my now pitifully slow ADSL line and I simply can’t imagine going back. Being able to download more than 10GB per hour as opposed to less than 2GB in the same time has spoiled me for good, and I recommend this LTE package to whoever I can.

That said, there’s certainly room for improvement.

 

Last Updated: January 27, 2016

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