MTN LTE tested in the real world

A lot has been said and written about LTE in South Africa and so I got myself the commercially available Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE enabled tab from MTN as I wanted to road test the MTN LTE network in a practical day to day work environment. Whilst its all great o hear that LTE networks have ridiculous speed, we know that in the real world things work differently as the real-world doesn’t always have ideal conditions.

So does LTE live up to the hype ? Does it actually make a difference to the work day ? Are the billions of rands MTN has spent worth the effort ?

I set to find out on my day out with MTN LTE.

 The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE

Google Cloud services has made it is so simple to set up a new device. Simply sign in with the Google account, head over to the Play store and as if by magic every app you needs is just there.

This is the first place I noticed the LTE difference – apps just started downloading and icons started popping up on the screen as each app was installed.  I personally use the following apps: K-9 Mail (for my email), Google+, WordPress (my blogging software), Facebook, Twitter, Intagram, Shazam, Dropbox, Evernote,  and my contacts and calendar are synchronised with Gmail along with Google Drive. Obviously there are some games somewhere in there too.  All the icons just appeared on screen and it took longer to move them around then to install.

The day started with the morning routine of checking emails over a cup of coffee trying to ignore the kids “I don’t wanna go to school” tantrums. Emails with attachments downloaded in no time and when I noticed the 4G in the bottom left I couldn’t help but grin a bit. This is going to be fun…

First Speed test – Time: Emmarentia

  • South Africa – 50.87Mbps download & 12.39Mbps upload.

MTN LTE - speedtest

Galaxy Tab as a Hot Spot:

At the office I set up my Galaxy Tab as a portable hotspot and connected my laptop via wifi to the tablet I dont have a LTE dongles so this is as good as its going to get.

The results were impressive. I expected degradation from my laptop but there speeds were still incredible, consistent and and stable.

Second Speed test – Time: Emmarentia

  • South Africa – 22.56Mbps download & 11.57Mbps upload.
  • International – 18.68Mbps download & 6.68Mbps upload.

MTN LTE - Galaxy Tab as a hotspotMTN LTE - Galaxy Tab as a hotspot

To give this LTE a bit of a run, I downloaded a 35Mb database file from my server in the USA where I was getting an average download of between 500 – 600KiB/s

MTN LTE - FTP download test

I then played a YouTube video in HD which just started to play with no buffering – even at full screen

MTN LTE - Speedtest YouTube HiDef video

I did a quick PING test to check the latency revealed just how quick LTE is:

MTN LTE - Speedtest ping

Off to a meeting in Sandton so it was a good time to do the next speed test whilst waiting in the reception.

Third Speed test – Time: Rivonia Road, Sandton

  • South Africa – 47.33Mbps download & 7.22Mbps upload.
  • International – 46.28Mbps download & 13.33Mbps upload.

MTN LTE - SpeedtestMTN LTE - Speedtest

When LTE was not available, the MTN networking seamlessly switches to HSDPA and 3G and even Edge all without dropping the signal. I managed to hold a Skype call with no problem and great voice and video quality, even whilst driving from Rosebank to Melrose Arch


Final meeting of the day in Four ways – another speed test.

Third Speed test – Time: 3.31 pm.Location: Fourways

  • South Africa – 18.64Mbps download & 6.43Mbps upload.
  • International – 8.20Mbps download & 1.20Mbps upload.

MTN LTE - SpeedtestMTN LTE - Speedtest

Whilst running the speed test at the website, I also ran the app as it keeps a log of the various test run:

MTN LTE - Speedtest

So in summary:

The MTN LTE is super blindingly fast. I noticed that the environmental conditions do play a roll and just by moving around, literally from table to table at a restaurant, I would get completely different speeds.


All my work application worked flawlessly and at times I was working on documents that were 15 megabytes in size but seemed to fly out of my Email Outbox at the speed I am used to seeing 1mb attachments send.

MTNZa keypad - keep an eye on LTE data

Finally, as much as I love having the speed at my fingertips, it does mean I can use a lot of data very quickly. I would highly recommend the MTNza Keypad which allows you to run the USSD commands directly from the tablet so you can keep an eye on your Data bundle and see how much data you are using at all times.

Overall, what a great experience. Getting back to the office ADSL does feel like taking a step back and so I tend to pop onto my Galaxy Tab more and more now when wanting instant access – especially when it comes to rich media such as YouTube.

I eagerly away 2013 where the LTE phone devices on MTN will be available and lets see how that changes the mobile game even more.

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