I have been using the Dialog 4G LTE for a while. After a very bitter start with Dialog, things settled down and overall the general performance has been good (in case you want to have a good read, check my rather lengthy review at https://rayazmuthalif.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/dialog-lte-decent-package-but-speeds-may-vary/). The recent doubling of capacity (albeit only in the night time) to compete with a similar offer made initially by SLT, meant you definitely got a lot of data for your buck compared to before.
However i realized my anytime 25GB on Dialog was exhausted by the mid of a month, and i decided to give a shot at Lanka Bell 4G. Lanka Bell was offering the same 25+25GB offer, but for almost 33% less monthly charges.
The sales guy made the connection quickly but proved to be not very “truthful” which complicated my service activation.
With LankaBell too I had a very very rocky start, and I found that the LankaBell support is a lot more “government like” compared to Dialog
The device refused to work after it delivered stating that it was configured to work, and complications on billing vs service address meant LankaBell refused to send me service team.
After almost a week the device was activated without any service staff needing to come over, baffling how they managed to do that!
Lanka Bell provides a Huawei device (Model B310s). The device comes with two VERY large antennas, i am not sure if they give two antennas because they have their stations far and wide. I was able to get TWO bars without any antennas, and get 3 bars (full strength) with just one antenna in my area. The large antenna really does make the device rather massive in foot print.
Update (May 2016): My sister got a new Dialog 4G connection, and they too are now providing the B310S model.
Perceptions – Lanka Bell 4G
The immediate perception was that the Lanka Bell 4G speeds was slower, and patchy. When i say patchy, i get regular periods where the internet just stops working for a few minutes, and then gets going on its own.
In addition page loads for general browsing are rather slow, slower than what i get on the 3.5G dongle.
So I decided to test it out using a network speed test site, and the test scenarios was,
- I ran two rounds of test, back to back
- I avoided the famous speedtest.net app, because i felt that the telcos had learnt to “tweak” to make their connections faster for this test
- I used the same device and browser (Nexus 5X, Chrome browser)
- I ran it at nearly the same time, one after one
- Tested it over Wi-Fi, both 4G devices were kept just 2 feet away from my phone
Peak time speeds
These were run during an overcast day, and during peak hours. The key is the average performance, as the max performance is “burst” of high speed that maybe only relevant for bragging rights.
During peak hours Dialog 4G trounces LankaBell 4G by 9 times higher download speeds, and 6 times higher upload speeds.
Off Peak speeds
Decided to test it at a more off peak time, where the user base is less, and here on a sunny Saturday morning at around 7am.
During off peak hours Dialog 4G offered 9 times the download performance, but the upload performance was only 2.5 times faster than LankaBell 4G
the key change being that the LankaBell upload average speeds increasing. In both cases we see a remarkable improvement in speeds compared to peak hours.
Update (May 2016): Another observation was that the LankaBell connection did not allow too many connections to be made. For example if my Torrent downloader was set to a maximum of 10 parallel threads for a download, I could not do anything else (e.g. Browse, check mail, etc). Comparatively with Dialog I could have 3 torrent (30 connections) + do what I want and still have enough connections.
Update (May 2017): the parallel thread issue has been improved, but the speeds are still no where close to Dialog 4G that i also use. I am hoping to try out SLT as well and will provide a post once i get an SLT 4G connection. One observation that i have noticed is that LankaBell provides downloads close to 1-1.6MBps (around 12-14Mbps) during the off peak slot, but come 8am when the switch happens the speeds do a instant slowdown to around 0.4MBps (3-4Mbps) indicating the performance is completely managed.
Another key question of any connection is how available and stable it is. I have now have the LankaBell connection for over 2 weeks, and it has been extremely disappointing. I have called support once because I could not get connectivity (the device could not get a connection from the tower) and it was resolved without a visit by the tech team, indicating an issue with the stations. The same has appeared 2-3 times since then.
UPDATE (2017 and 2018) – This connectivity issue when starting the router is common, and happens practically 2-3 times a week (i switch off my router when i don’t use it). I have reported this to LankaBell support center and indicated this is not an issue with the router but with their network, but they seems to be not interested (I raised this issue their contact us page and i took around 2 weeks for someone to call back on my request!). The solution has been to switch off the router and restart it, which gets the connection issue. In some cases it takes around 2 mins before the actual data connection works.
Comparatively Dialog has performed better, but in one occasion (where the LankaBell also refused to get connection) I had no connection and it was on a very overcast day. Surprisingly Dialog 4G on the phone was working, so the problem was with the 4G fixed line network.
So if you want speed Dialog aces it, and Dialog also definitely have a much more stable connection. However the LankaBell connection is still fast enough for most general users, and with the 33% monthly lower cost, LankaBell 4G can be a viable alternative (and possibly the best cost per GB for general users).
Advice to LankaBell : Improve your call center and sales teams, they need to be more polite and supportive… you don’t have the performance, so you got to cover it up with service to grow your client base, and ensure you retain the clients you gain. And work on the reliability of your network, the patchy performance is terribly irritating.
Sadly a saving of 33% monthly may not be worthwhile compared to the loss in performance, unstable performance and unstable network. Dialog and SLT seem to be much better propositions currently for fixed line fast data at the moment…
Your speeds may differ based on location and density of consumers. So feel free to share your views.
UPDATE May-2018>Decided finally that slow speeds and regular delays in getting the connection to work (and raising escalations to support had no purpose) that it is high time to close the LankaBell 4G account. With the new SLT pricing the cost advantage that LankaBell provided is also not such a huge factor, so my advise is that if you can foot the slightly higher monthly rates, opt for Dialog or SLT solutions.