voip-over-4g

How well does VoIP work over 4G in 2017?

Over the past few years, 4G usage has grown dramatically. When we last tested how well VoIP worked over 4G, it had only recently been made available and was supported by just one provider; that is no longer the case, with the top providers all offering 4G and coverage extending across much of the country. According to Ofcom’s 2016 Communications Market Report, 4G is now available to 97.8% of UK premises.

As an internet phone service provider, we’re interested in how well VoIP works over 4G, as many of our customers require the ability to make calls over the internet when they’re out and about and away from wireless networks.

Same test, different year

We wanted to redo the testing we carried out in 2013, to look at how the results differ and see if the connection speeds and call quality had changed much over the past four years. Using Ookla’s Speedtest we carried out the tests at three different times in each location to see if that made any difference to the results.

Test one – Aston Science Park

2017 results:

Test timePing (ms)Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Call quality
09:07337.938.96A little bit of latency, echo was about a second behind
12:15482.692.93Good call quality, no noticeable latency
16.55496.375.98Good call quality, no noticeable latency

2013 results:

Ping: 38ms
Download speed: 11Mbps
Upload speed: 2.2Mbps
Call quality: No noticeable latency.

 

Test two – Birmingham Snow Hill

2017 results:

Test timePing (ms)Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Call quality
08:425114.5128.71Good call quality, no noticeable latency
12:41494.199.92Noticeable latency, echo around 2 seconds
16:57580.252.61Poor call quality; noticeable latency, echo around 2 seconds

2013 results:

Ping: 33ms
Download speed: 15.34Mbps
Upload speed: 12.25Mbps
Call quality: quality was fine (could be due to lack of other 4G devices).

 

Test three – Birmingham Moor Street

2017 results:

Test timePing (ms)Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Call quality
08:394815.739.78V. little latency – echo of less than a second
12:29582.399.29Slight latency, echo over a second
17:20382.616.29Noticeable latency, echo around 2 seconds

2013 results:

Ping: 36ms
Download speed: 6.12Mbps
Upload speed: 7.51Mbps
Call quality: quality was fine, no noticeable latency (could be due to lack of other 4G devices).

Analysis

We witnessed a great deal of variance in download and upload speeds depending on the location and time of day. This is likely due to the sheer number of people using the 4G network at peak times, as the spectrum most phone carriers use can get saturated when areas are overcrowded, meaning there’s less bandwidth to go around. Speeds can also vary based on network, with EE tending to provide faster connections than their rivals.

When the tests did produce good speed results, we found that 4G was sometimes faster than standard ADSL broadband networks. It’s therefore clear to see why a lot of people choose to tether from their 4G mobile devices instead of connecting to locally-available public wifi networks like Sky WiFi (The Cloud) and BT’s hotspots.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the ‘five times faster’ increase in 4G speeds that the industry promised a few years ago, with a 2015 study by Ofcom indicating that speeds were 2.5 times faster than they had been in 2012. This can be remedied with investment in more masts and upgrades to the mobile infrastructure. With networks like EE vocally committing to increasing 4G coverage over the next few years, we hope this comes to fruition, as more and more people are relying on their mobile data for calls, messages, and internet browsing.

Try your own speed test

We’d love to hear what kind of speeds you get at home and work – if you feel like carrying out a test yourself, just visit http://www.speedtest.net/ and download the app or choose ‘Request desktop site’ in your mobile browser. Then run the test whilst connected to 4G and let us know your results in the comments below!

 

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