Telstra's new super-fast 4G LTE mobile network is going live today in capital city CBDs and 30 regional and metropolitan centres.
The telco has already been giving a limited number of business customers a taste of the new network since August, but is today expanding coverage outside of the small zones it had established in CBDs, within 5km of capital city GPOs.
The new network will provide speeds from 2Mbps to 40Mbps. In real world terms, that means a 650MB TV episode would download in about three minutes.
Telstra 4G will also offer upload speeds of up to 10Mbps -- which is around five to 10 times faster than most wired home internet connections (apart from NBN fibre connections) can offer today.
Telstra says average performance will be "ten times faster than 3G speeds currently claimed by other Australian telecommunication companies" -- which doesn't seem like much of a stretch given how poor the speed on Optus and Vodafone's 3G networks has been compared to Telstra.
The new network is great news for travellers, of course, because it provides speeds rivalling wired internet connections like ADSL2+ and cable while travelling. Like Telstra's earlier network, Next G, it provides a very cost-effective way to avoid paying hotel internet fees while travelling.
As well as supporting faster download and upload speeds, Telstra 4G should provide more responsive internet connections. Network latency (the time it takes for data to travel from a PC to the internet and back) is around half that of Next G, so real-time apps like video conferencing, internet gaming and cloud-hosted streaming services should work better with less buffering.
Telstra says its first 4G phone will be an Android handset from HTC, currently codenamed "HTC 4G". It said little else about the handset except that it would run on a fast dual-core processor and have an eight megapixel camera.
For now, the only way to use the Telstra 4G network is by subscribing to a stand-alone mobile broadband plan using a USB modem. The prices are the same as current Next G plans.
A BigPond USB 4G modem (with no excess usage fees, just a slower connection after the usage limit is exceeded) can be purchased for $0 upfront (after a rebate) on a 24 month contract for $59.95 a month, which includes 8GB of data per month.
Telstra Mobile USB 4G (with excess usage fees) costs $0 upfront on a $39 Telstra Mobile Broadband plan over 24 months with 4GB data per month.
Where does Telstra 4G have coverage?
- Within 5km of the GPO in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and Canberra.
- Capital city airports.
- 31 regional and metropolitan areas within 3km of the GPO:
New South Wales
- Nyah/Nyah West
- Lake Boga
- Coolangatta Airport
- Mt Isa
- Noosa Heads
- Mt Barker
- Port Lincoln
It will launch in another 50 locations by the end of the year.