The new Vodafone LTE network is shockingly fast.

I’ve been using a Vodafone LTE-enabled SIM in my iPad for about a month and I’m impressed. The speeds I’ve been getting in the Wellington CBD are amazing.

LTE – sometimes called 4G – is the latest mobile-broadcast technology. (If you’re curious, LTE stands for “Long Term Evolution” and 4G for “Fourth Generation”.)

Both of the big networks will be launching LTE networks, but Vodafone is the only one that’s running as LTE slowly rolls out across the country. Telecom is doing non-public trials instead of a roll out.

Using Vodafone’s LTE and Speedtest.net I tested the speeds. One time I was able to get 72Mbps download speed, but this was clearly an outlier. I averaged speeds of around 44Mbps down and 10Mbps up. Those are still impressive. (Comparatively on WiFi I got 24 down, 20 up at work, and 8 down and 0.8 up at home).

I’m aware I was getting these LTE speeds with few users on the network. However, while travelling in Japan last year I used the LTE network and got similar speeds. Tokyo has huge numbers of users on its network.

What do the speeds mean?

Websites load faster, YouTube and Spotify run smoother and I can watch full-HD streaming video while I walk to work.

To get LTE you need to have an LTE-ready device (Vodafone has a list of devices on its site). You also need to have LTE added to your account – which incurs a fee. It’s unclear if this fee will remain once the network goes nationwide.

Right now LTE is available in New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Wellington, Taupo, Wanaka, Queenstown, Christchurch and Auckland.