Vodafone Ireland demoed 4G services last night in Dublin and we were invited along with others to see its potential. They had set up some online gaming, live streaming video, HD youtube video streaming and some examples of how fast the service will be at uploading files.

First off this was a controlled environment with limited real world testing but even if the speeds we get once the service goes live are a fraction of the speeds we saw we should see a very happy populous out there.

The auction for 4G licences closed recently but the networks have been testing the 4G spectrum already using Comreg’s testing ground. So on to the good stuff. With the online gaming demo we noticed no lag at all.  Uploading a 25mb video to youtube took about 5 seconds over 4G whereas it took approx 2-3mins over 3G .Performance tests carried out on speedtest.net were reporting download speeds of 40-99mbps and upload speeds of 10-25mbps. A considerable improvement over our current data speeds. Something which should become apparent at launch is that while many thought the transition of 2G to 3G offered us substantial improvements in mobile data connectivity we really didn’t get them. The move from 3G to 4G should get everyones notice.

Excluding the obvious question of will the speeds hold up once launched the big question/concern from my point of view is will the networks give decent data allowances for all of this speed? We’ve seen 3G data allowances drop and drop over the past number of years. We’ve seen networks charge more and more for extra data and options such as tethering. I for one dont want to see the power of 4G services crippled just to make an extra buck. But if what we’ve seen in the demo does come about and it’s priced keenly we could see Ireland really take a step into the future with proper broadband speeds for the entire country and not just those in the cities. UPC should also be worried about these speeds. While they may monopolise urban centres with their high speed cable offerings, they may get squeezed by the mobile networks when 4G LTE does launch.

Vodafone told us they are currently testing 4G at a number of sites around the country including Dublin, Kilkenny and their HQ in Leopardstown. There was no launch date put out (for obvious commercial reasons Vodafone would like to keep that one a secret) but we should begin to see rollout commence in the Summer of 2013. It should be an exciting year.

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