I live in the rural north west of Ireland, not far from the Slieve League cliffs. Getting decent broadband is completely hit & miss depending on one’s location. The fastest fixed broadband service I can get is a 5Mbps DSL connection (4Mbps actual throughput), yet the house 3 lanes from me can get 1Gbps FTTH!
While 5Mbps may not seem great, many houses around this area cannot get anything better than 2Mbps due to the long telephone line runs. There is a fixed wireless broadband service in the area, which is barely usable for browsing at peak time, let alone streaming.
A few years ago, a 4G (LTE) and two 3G providers went live in the nearby village. I decided to try each one out using prepay SIMs. Initially I didn’t get far as I can’t get a 3G/4G signal indoors, so I bought a suitable wideband directional MIMO antenna and mounted it on the gable, aimed at the cell towers. With the desktop cellular data router, I could get a near full signal on Vodafone 3G and Meteor 3G and a medium signal on Three 4G.
For the first year, Three’s 4G service was like a decent VDSL connection particularly during the day. During the evening, I was able to exploit their traffic shaping by making a VPN connection over port 8080, the same port Ookla’s speed test uses. However, towards the end of 2016, they seemed to stop traffic shaping based on port #s and unsurprisingly, my speed tests even on Ookla nose-dived.
At the end of the year, I decided to try Meteor 3G as I always had great speed on my phone wherever I picked up their 3G service. It was a pleasant surprise - I could hit 12Mbps even during peak time and the upload speed can hit 10 times my DSL connection, which is a great help for teleworking. The main catch is the cost - 60c per GB (prepay), so I mainly use my DSL connection for general browsing and streaming and the 3G connection when I need to telework or download something quickly.
For anyone that has only used 3G/4G on their phone or are unsure what it’s like to use as a PC Internet connection, I made screen recordings of each service, plus my DSL connection. I choose 9:30pm as that is peak time when the wireless services tend to be the most congested. As you’ll see, getting 4G is not necessarily better than 3G.
I deliberately left out speed tests - They are meaningless on Three’s network with their severe traffic shaping here.