New iPad global network speed test shames the UK

The new iPad has had its network speeds tested around the globe, but the results aren't too rosy for the UK.

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read
Watch this: Global iPad speed test

Apple's new iPad has had its network speeds tested around the globe, but the results aren't too rosy for the UK -- hit play on the video above to see quite how dismal our networks look compared with the rest of the world.

Brave CNETeers from our San Francisco, London, Singapore and Sydney offices took the new iPad outside to conduct a series of speed trials, in order to determine which nation affords iPad owners the fastest network speeds. And it sure as sausages ain't us.

First we used the Speedtest.net iOS app, which gauges Internet speeds. While the US and its potent 4G network won this test with a download rate of 28.47Mbps, our own iPad, complete with a Vodafone micro-SIM card, managed just 0.64Mbps.

Ouch. That's some truly sluggish data, and well below the theoretical speeds of up to 28.8Mbps in major cities that Vodafone reckons it can deliver to the new iPad.

Our buddies down under came second in this test, mustering 16.06Mbps over their Telstra dual carriage HSPA+ network.

Next up, we indulged in a spot of real-world testing by seeing which nation could buffer this 5-minute 33-second YouTube video. Australia won the test, loading the clip in a mere 49 seconds. By the time CNET Australia's iPad had completely buffered the video, the UK iPad had managed to buffer only about a fifth of the clip.

It's not detailed in the video above, but I can tell you that loading that YouTube video was a long and painful experience, with the clip frequently halting as it buffered ever so slowly.

Despite the new iPad containing 4G-capable components, it doesn't get 4G speeds in the UK because we don't have those networks yet. And even when we do get 4G here, we won't be using frequencies that the new iPad supports. For more on this, read our new iPad review.

Of course, there are a lot of variables to consider when evaluating these speed tests. We picked Vodafone simply because it had the closest shop selling micro-SIM cards on the day we tested, and we could have come up with a different result had we trialled our iPad at another time of day, somewhere else, or using an alternative network.

Seeing our speeds compared with the rest of the world's networks is a galling reminder that when it comes to mobile Internet, the UK lags behind. Orange and T-Mobile plan to roll out 4G-speed networks to the UK by the end of the year, but that plan is awaiting the final go-ahead from regulator Ofcom.

And no surprises, Vodafone and O2 have been complaining that Orange and T-Mobile shouldn't be allowed to start rolling out those networks until the proper spectrum auction, which due to legal threats from operators, has been delayed until "2013 at the earliest".

What kind of network speeds does your iPad manage? And do you think the UK deserves speedier mobile broadband? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.