Telstra’s 4G network goes live


news The nation’s largest telco Telstra today revealed it had officially switched on its fourth-generation (4G) mobile network across Australia following a soft-launch several weeks ago, with the 4G coverage now live across capital city central business districts and more than 30 other centres around the nation.

The upgrade will effectively double the top-line speeds which Telstra is able to offer customers in the supported 4G coverage areas, typically located in high-density areas. Telstra’s current 3G network is based on the HSPA+ standard and features typical download speeds between 1.1Mbps and 20Mbps, while the 4G component will offer speeds ranging from 2Mbps up to 40Mbps. Upload speeds, today between 500kbps to 3Mbps, will be increased to between 1Mbps to 10Mbps.

The 4G component of Telstra’s Next G network also differs from the existing 3G component in that it uses the 1800MHz spectrum band, while the 3G aspect runs on the 850MHz spectrum band. Customers will be automatically switched between the two networks, which will run side by side, when they connect to Next G.

In a statement detailing the rollout, Telstra chief executive David Thodey was effusive in his praise for the new technology. Both Optus and Vodafone are currently planning similar 4G rollouts. “Today marks a new high-speed chapter in Australian mobile telecommunications,” said Thodey. “Telstra’s 4G network delivers mobile speeds scarcely imagined a decade ago, making it easier for people to connect with the things they need and love when on the move.”

“The superfast speeds mean consumers can download songs faster, get TV shows in minutes and do more things simultaneously,” Thodey added. “This is just the beginning. Telstra 4G will allow our mobile devices to perform even more advanced tasks and open the door to a host of innovative high-speed services that have yet to be conceived.”

According to Telstra’s statement, the telco’s 4G coverage is available in the following capital city CBDs and airports: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and Canberra.
In addition, the coverage extends to the following cities (within 3km of the general post office in each city:

  • New South Wales: Parramatta, Albury, Dubbo, Gosford, Newcastle
  • Victoria: Ballarat, Castlemaine, Echucha, Geelong, Horsham, Morwell, Shepparton, Nyah/Nyah West, Lake Boga, Warragul, Werribee
  • Queensland: Bundaberg, Cairns, Coolangatta Airport, Tweed, Nerang, Gympie, Maryborough, Mt Isa, Caloundra, Noosa Heads, Toowoomba, Townsville
  • South Australia: Mt Barker, Port Lincoln, Stirling

In addition, the telco is planning to launch its 4G network in some 50-plus additional locations across the country by the end of 2011 — including major centres in every state. However, portions of that rollout will depend on the telco’s ability to buy spectrum from the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

So far, there are only two devices which support Telstra’s 4G network — the BigPond USB 4G modem, which the telco is aiming to sell to consumers, and the Telstra USB 4G modem, which the telco is aiming to sell to business customers. The consumer modem can be bought for zero dollars up-front on a range of new 24 month plans — including on a $59.95 monthly plan with 8GB of data included.

The business modem can be bought on a similar range of plans — including, Telstra said, for zero dollars up-front on the telco’s $39 monthly plan over 24 months, which comes with 4GB of included data. And Thodey hinted at forthcoming 4G smartphones in the pipeline for Telstra as well.

“We know there is a huge appetite for 4G-powered smartphones and tablets and Telstra is working with some of the world’s leading manufacturers to bring some of these devices to customers in the first half of 2012,” Thodey said.

For further detailed information about the rollout, Telstra has made available a number of fact sheets (all in PDF):

Image credit: Telstra


  1. Until there are handsets available and people are actually utilising the network it’s all kinda irrelevent right now.

    Instead of releasing it in certain areas maybe Telstra would have been rolling out further into metro areas and then when a handset gets released go, “Here’s the new 4G handset, and it will already work in all these locations at 4G speeds” …

        • You’re right, but on different channels.
          The aim of LTE/4G initially (as I understand it) is as a standalone data device connection, either USB stick, WIC in a router, etc…

          • I was being sarcastic, I’m fully aware of how the mobile backend works.

            My point was that the amount of uptake right now on 4G is going to be minimal, until it is available in more areas Telstra are going to find it hard to convince customers to make any sort of long term commitment. And by that stage Optus and Vodafone will likely also have a competing 4G network.

            Put simply, 4G won’t really be utilised until it’s rolled out in metro areas and there are handsets available that can access it.

  2. Who the hell wants an LTE handset? LTE is native IP – entirely packet-switched, with no direct support for circuit-switched (voice) connections. With nothing in this announcement about VoLTE/VoIP I doubt Telstra have anything working at this point. Existing “4G” phones like this HTC Evo actually incorporate a seperate 2G baseband just for voice and SMS – and now you know why battery life is awful. So forget handsets (at least for now). All LTE really gets you if faster data anyway, and it’s not like anything you can do on a phone even pushes the limits of HSPA+.

    As for modems, routers are in the pipeline (and firmware updates to use LTE USB dongles with existing routers will start appearing soon).

    • Hmmmm…a cunning plan!
      This technology is amazing for mobile users.
      I was sitting in Darwin last week with a 4G device and with 1 bar coverage, and via speedtest server in Melbourne, through my work VPN, I was getting ~16Mbps constant throughput. That compared to ~1.5Mbps (on 5 bars coverage) on a nextG device right next to it.
      Pretty sweet in my books.

      • Through your work VPN. So you were running the speed test off the VPN connection/applications and so the speed test would of been testing the speed of where ever you were connected to and not your 4G devices connection?

        • There was no Citrix or think client in use. It was straight down the Wireless IP port, out our internet gateway with no impedance.
          The speed test from outside the VPN was obviously better, but only slightly, even though it was bounced off a competitors server thousands of kms away.
          I was just making the point that as a mobile user the experience was WAY better than the normal 3G.

  3. And we wonder why with 50% of NBNCo customers choosing 12/1Mbps (cheapest plan), that NBNCo want to prevent Telstra and Optus from marketing LTE as a competitor to the NBN?

    Sure it won’t compete at the top end, but at the bottom, all indications are it will be cheaper for a basic service.

    • With regards to this comment Mathew:

      “And we wonder why with 50% of NBNCo customers choosing 12/1Mbps (cheapest plan), ”

      There’s a big difference between 50% of NBNCo customers choosing 12/1 and NBNCo PLANNING for that scenario, as per the Corporate Plan. Current takeup has been confirmed that the 12/1 Mbit plans are lower than expected, with upper tiered plans higher than expected (check out the reports from NBNCo’s site regarding this).

      Early adopters cannot effectively be the target market here, because the NBN covers everyone in a specific area, not just the early adopters in said area.

  4. will someone tell me if telstra g4 network will be able to work with amazon kindles or are the kindles that use 3g network suddenly going to become irrelevant? Charles

    • If it’s a 3G kindle then it’ll continue to work on the 3G network. It’s not being turned off.

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