Updated on Saturday, May 16 with comments from Oooredoo
Throwing down the gauntlet this week, Qatar’s two telecom providers have been encouraging residents to test the speed of their mobile networks in hopes of proving once and for all who is the fastest.
The contest started earlier this week when Vodafone made a bold claim, announcing it operated Qatar’s speediest data network. In a statement on its website explaining recent upgrades, the provider said:
“We installed 134 new outdoor sites, 42 indoor sites, 290 4G outdoor sites and 25 4G indoor sites. With this, we have increased both our 3G and 4G coverage, doubled our 3G capacity, tripled our 4G capacity and tripled our data capacity for a better user experience.”
When residents pushed back against the company’s declaration of being number one, Vodafone launched a contest called the #225Challenge, promising free data and a new phone to anyone who could reach 225 megabits per second (Mbps) speeds on any network in Qatar.
— Vodafone Qatar (@VodafoneQatar) May 13, 2015
Incumbent telecom company Ooredoo soon joined that challenge, encouraging residents to conduct speed tests and post the results online. Those with the top outdoor download speeds (from any network) were promised Nojoom points, free data and a 4G+ smartphone.
Mobile data speeds can vary based on the area someone is in, the amount of users in the area, whether the person is indoors/outdoors and if there are any obstructions.
At the end of 2014, Ooredoo rolled out 4G+, the latest generation of mobile data technology, for its customers. At the time, the network said it could offer a theoretical top speed of 225 Mbps, which would allow users to almost instantly download a two-minute, 20-megabyte video clip, for example.
But Ooredoo added that users could realistically expect speeds of up to 50 Mbps – which would be fast enough to download the same video clip in four seconds.
Meanwhile, Vodafone rolled out its 4G+ service for the first time this week, saying in a statement that users could benefit from speeds of up to 150 Mbps, though they should expect an average speed of 30 Mbps.
The contest was supposed to end at 2:25am this morning, and then 12:25pm, but both deadlines passed without anyone successfully reaching 225 Mbps speeds on either network.
A new deadline of 2:25pm was set, but no winners were declared as of 4pm Thursday afternoon. However, Vodafone did tweet:
Speaking to Doha News, a Vodafone spokesperson said:
“The purpose of the #225challenge was to demonstrate to customers that the top speed that Ooredoo claims is only a theoretical speed that is very hard to replicate outside a controlled lab. We wanted to show that the real speed should actually be the average customer experience day-to-day. Top speed is not an indicator or customer experience so we wanted to encourage customers to see that in real life.”
Some of the fastest average speeds not obtained by either company’s employees were found by Gazanfarulla Khan, a Qatar resident who said he spent his day testing both networks.
— Gazan Khan (@acepilotkhan) May 14, 2015
Speaking to Doha News, Khan said, “From what I have seen, outdoors Ooredoo stands out.” He added that the contest was good for customers, because it spurs providers to offer better service across the board.
The results of the test appear to show that while neither provider can offer more than 200 Mbps, Ooredoo users who participated in the challenge were able to obtain higher speeds:
Speaking to Doha News, a spokesperson for the company said:
“The only ‘Number One’ network in Qatar is the biggest and fastest Ooredoo network, and this is shown in the amazing entries we received as part of the Qatar’s fastest network challenge, the #225challenge.
Which network seemed faster to you? Thoughts?