Recently we had an oppourtunity to carry out a 3-provider 4G network internet speed test in the Vilamoura, Algarve. Originally a client contacted us with intermittent 4G mobile broadband network connectivity on his MIFI device (TP-LINK M7350)- we recommended the installation of a 4G antenna to boost the signal and improve both speed and reliability - with an unlocked 4G router (Dlink DWR-921) this also enabled us to test all three 4G Portuguese network providers (NOS, Vodafone Portugal and MEO).

Those familiar with the ins and outs of mobile broadband in Portugal (especially the Algarve) will know that some providers internet service can be especially poor - these results should be of great interest to those consider a change of 4G network provider. Where this is not a "lab environment" we think this is a a reasonably solid test of the actual network performance and speed:
i) all tests conducted at the same time of day (approx 2200-0000)
ii) same 4G mobile broadband router in use (DLINK DWR-921) sited in the same position for all tests.
iii) same 4G MIFI router in use (TP-LINK M7350) sited in the same position for all tests.
iv) same 3G/4G antenna in use (directional panel antenna) sited in the same external position for all tests.
v) same speed test website used for all tests (www.speedtest.net)
vi) 4G technologies available in the location from all networks (specific provider edge technology unknown as always)

Here are the results:

 (values in Mbps)

Vodafone

MEO

NOS

MIFI

 8 DL / 3 UL

 10 DL / 8 UL

 4 DL / 1 UL

Router

 15 DL / 12 UL

 19 DL / 14 UL

 9 DL / 1 UL

With Antenna

 39 DL / 21 UL

 32 DL / 22 UL

 15 DL / 1 UL



A couple of takeaways here, and these all fail in line with our real life experience of providing solutions on the various Portugal 4G networks.
i) NOS as well as lagging in all the speed test provide a constant 1Mbps upload speed regardless of the signal quality/speed improvements seen in the download speed - this is obviously a by design traffic shaping profile running on the local cell.
ii) The test time period in use was not exactly prime time for number of 4G users using the local mast or the core networks - so we could expect these internet speed figures to drop and/or fluctuate at busier periods. Again BAD NEWS for NOS who seem to be struggling at all times..
iii) There is an obvious improvement with the installation of an antenna on all networks.