Telstra's debut of its first 4G smartphone – the aptly-named HTC Velocity – is set to delivering blistering speeds to business travellers.
How fast? As high as 25Mbps-30Mbps in the real world, according to what we've seen in the Sydney CBD.
That's quicker than most home broadband connections. It's more than enough to demolish the mobile lag on web pages and means that streaming video such as ABC TV's News24 channel is no longer 'stuttering' video.
It also unlocks a number of web apps such as DropBox, which many people would use sparingly on 3G. (Upload speeds from the phone are also DropBox-friendly, at around 8-10Mbps.)
As impressive as such capabilities are, the 4G scenario will be even more appealing when Telstra adds a 4G tablet to the line-up – something which Telstra mobile director Andrew Volard tipped by mid-year, along with another four 4G smartphones.
If you want or need 4G superspeed today, however, the HTC Velocity is the only phone that'll deliver it.
Telstra's new 4G network – which runs on an entirely separate radio band to its Next G service and the 3G networks of Vodafone and Optus – currently casts its footprint in the CBD of each capital city. It's officially within a 5km radius of the GPO, but you'll likely enjoy an extra km or two in some directions.
4G base stations also dot more than 80 'metropolitan' areas – built-up zones, such as Sydney's western suburbs centred on Parramatta and the outer-west around Penrith – as well as regional towns, with a slightly reduced 3km span. Telstra says another 20 regions will get 4G this year.
You can check out Telstra's Australia-wide network coverage map at www.telstra.com/mobilebbcoverage.
But if you're outside one of those areas you won't be left high and dry.
The Velocity falls back onto the Next G band and uses turbo-charged 'dual channel' technology – essentially using two Next G mobile phone data channels to download data instead of just one channel – for speeds up to 20Mbps, equivalent to Telstra's fastest Next G smartphone or USB mobile broadband dongle
Even further afield, regular Next G coverage still yields a reliable 2-4Mbps with peaks to 8Mbps.
In short: if you've been using Next G mobile broadband to simultaneously enjoy 'anywhere, anytime' connectivity and escape the rort of being slugged up to $30 per day for hotel Internet, 4G is going to make it seem as if you've got cable Internet hooked up to your smartphone or laptop.
As for the HTC Velocity smartphone itself: it packs a 4.5 inch screen (and 1.5 GHz dual core processor) but still fits well into the palm of your hand. HTC says the current Android OS 2.3 software will be upgraded to the latest Android OS 4.0 in the near future.
Telstra's pricing on the HTC Velocity begins at $0 upfront on a $79 plan with $800 of talk & text and 2GB of data, and $0 up-front on the $90 Business Mobile Advantage.
For more information, click to www.telstra.com/velocity4g.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.