Sunday morning in Vientiane seemed like a reasonably low global traffic time to test download speeds from the better 3G and 4G mobile internet providers in Laos. Currently, these are Beeline (Tigo) and Unitel for 3G HSDPA and Planet Online for 4G WiMax. As the other two ISPs, Lao Telecom and ETL were only giving 1 or 2 Mbps at my location, I stopped subscribing a while back when faster connections became available for the same price.
While higher speeds and lower ping times will be achieved from relatively nearby Vientiane, Bangkok or Hanoi servers, what happens in the real world upstream (between Vientiane and servers in say London or New York) is another story and of course download speeds will be affected by many different factors.
Using the well-known SpeedTest.net, I was quite surprised with some of the results. I used the 21 Mbps USB modem from Beeline, a 7.2 Mbps dongle from Unitel and Planet’s 4G WiMax Indoor CPE modem. While having seen increased speeds from local servers, I certainly wasn’t expecting to see over 5 Mbps download speeds and very low latency from many thousands of miles or kilometers away from Southeast Asia. Here are the results:
Unitel Lao (Star Telecom) HSPA – London, UK server
Planet Online Laos WiMax – London, UK server
Planet Online Laos WiMax – New York City, USA server
Beeline Lao HSPA+ (ex Tigo Millicom) – London, UK server
Beeline Lao HSPA+ (ex Tigo Millicom) – New York City, USA server
This was by no means a definitive test which, in fairness, ought to be made at different times of the day, night and week, using different local and overseas locations and servers.
Currently, Beeline’s new HSPA+ service using a high speed USB modem such as the ZTE MF 668A wins hands down. Both the ping times and download speeds were impressive and unexpected. Let’s hope as the subscriber base expands that performance doesn’t deteriorate too rapidly as it has with Unitel.
Here’s a more recent Beeline test using a Los Angeles, CA (US West Coast) server, done at 6.30 pm Wednesday 18th.
Beeline is part of VimpelCom, a huge Russian-owned mobile provider. I found even less latency to Moscow – 48ms.
Strangely, I have since received much higher ping rates using Pingtest.net from these and other locations. I am looking further into why there should be such discrepancy.
See the Lao Communications page on our website for details of phone and internet services in the Lao PDR.