Vodafone Australia claims that it offers the fastest LTE data speeds in Sydney and Melbourne, based on speed tests conducted in early July. The operator says that its customers averaged a download speed of 48 Mbps across parts of Sydney, ahead of competitors Telstra and Optus, both of which had an average download speed of 26 Mbps. In Melbourne, Vodafone says speeds were averaging 41 Mbps, compared to Telstra with an average of 30 Mbps and Optus with 23 Mbps.
LTE speed, in our view, does not promise great competitive advantage to operators, at least not in the long run. The reason is that all industry players will ultimately have access to the same technology, meaning that at some point in the not-too-distant future just about everyone will be operating on a more or less level playing field. Subscribers will likely soon come to realize that they will get similar speeds regardless of which operator they choose. Furthermore, advertised speed figures are often more notional than real, since actual download speeds depend heavily on conditions such as exact location and the nature of the devices receiving the data. We think LTE speed figures, while they may seem impressive for marketing purposes, are basically ephemeral advantages that can quickly slip away. MNOs would do better to stand on firmer ground by emphasizing services that are unique, value-added, and consistently reliable.