Telstra trialling 450Mbps 4G, says AFR



blog It’s only been a couple of months since mobile carrier Vodafone started claiming it’s got Australia’s fastest mobile broadband network, and although our tests show it has some basis to the claim, it appears it’s not a claim Telstra is going to take sitting down. The Financial Review newspaper reports this morning that the big T is testing mobile broadband speeds up to 450Mbps. Yup. You read that right. Half a gig. The newspaper reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“According to a Telstra strategy briefing obtained by The Australian Financial Review the company plans to use a technology called “carrier aggregation” to deliver peak mobile download speeds of 450 megabits per second in certain conditions.”

Now look, I’m sure Telstra is trialling a variety of new technologies on its network. It always is. And I’m sure that it does have something like 450Mbps on its long-term roadmap. However, right now, I’m forced to be a bit skeptical about this claim. To get 450Mbps services to users is going to require some extreme engineering and network design effort from Telstra, not the least of which would be ensuring it has sufficient backhaul connections to all of its towers. 450Mbps may be on the roadmap, but if so, it’s likely quite a ways away, and it’s also quite likely to be highly variable — there is no way Telstra will be able to guarantee anything like 450Mbps to all users, all of the time. This is simply the nature of wireless networking.

I also want to address a couple of other issues in the AFR’s article this morning. There are just some factual and contextual issues in there that are worth correcting. For example, the AFR claims Labor’s NBN policy would have offered residents 100Mbps speeds. Correction: The speeds offered would be up to 1Gbps. The article also makes the claim that Telstra’s supposed 450Mbps network would allow users to download a HD move when in two minutes, and broadly compares the Coalition and Labor NBN policies to Telstra’s 450Mbps plans.

Well, yes, they are, in some ways, comparable. However, it’s also about quota. Right now, the maximum mobile quota Telstra offers is 15GB. If you download a full HD movie over its mobile network, that’s going to knock probably 2GB of quota out in two minutes (assuming 1080p). This is one of the reason fixed-line networking is so important — because mobile networks just do not have the capacity to take over the quota needs currently served by fixed-line broadband. Quota is just a lot more expensive on mobile networks. I’m really tired of commentators in Australia conflating these two technologies, which are broadly complementary and usually do not compete. At this stage, most Australians have both fixed-line broadband functionality at home and work and a smartphone with mobile broadband functionality. I don’t see this complementary situation changing anytime soon.

Image credit: Telstra


    • Guess I owe Alan Jones an apology as it seems likely that “wireless is the future” after all for many of us?
      My neighbour’s copper can’t supply better than dial up but her mobile wireless dongle already leaves my ADSL 1 limited land-line for dead in download speeds.
      If we restrict our downloads to just email & non entertainment web access in going all mobile, then dumping our $30/mth line rental fixed service is starting to look more & more attractive & competitive with what Turnbull’s FTTN is likely to offer for our location.

  1. Just two stats to put this into some context:

    The percentage share of mobile data is dropping:

    And $105 for 15 GB is the best value you can get:

    So, sure, this might result in prices dropping through spectrum being used more efficiently. But countering that is the huge capital expenditure this will require, the amount of contention that will remain and it will have to compete against fibre.

    That said, this is good news and will be a wonderful complement to the NBN. Your turn next, Optus.

  2. I find it amusing the way these journalists do their best at conflating the trialling of bought in technology with developing it locally. It’s never explicit but the implication is there.

  3. “Tony Abbott told voters in Brisbane the rise of mobile systems reduced the need to “dig up every street for the NBN”.”

    Good old Tony, always on the ball with Technology. Good work Tony, pushing Australia forward, 1 byte at a time* (* barring rain).

  4. Minor correction – Telstra Business and Bigpond both offer a 25GB 4G Mobile Broadband plans – I know, as I use both for my broadband service as I have severely congested ADSL1 at my home office.

    Bigpond 25GB Mobile Broadband plan: $160 per month
    Telstra Business 25GB mobile broadband plan: $150 per month

    Nice speed, evil pricing for the combined 50GB I need per month for my job.

    • oh that only applies to fixed line services.

      wireless services need much more than that…


  5. Look what is with all this need for speed nonsense? EDGE should be enough for anyone.

    As if a commercial company would be so wanton. Good lord. Such waste, old chap. What what.

    < Insert sounds of Malcolm Turnbull cutting – here. >

  6. My thoughts are that this is Telstra testing their newly bought 700 spectrum in specific areas on Aggregated LTE-A. (30MHz down, 10MHz up would be my guess by their auction winnings). Either that or using 1800 and 2500 combined on LTE. Like Optus, except without the change in carrier wave from between TDD and FDD.

    Telstra have already said they’re interested in LTE-A and 2015, when 700 becomes available, would be the perfect time to begin over-rolling the system with LTE-A. Or use their 2500 spectrum to give their urban areas higher speed capability with their 1800 already deployed.

    I read this as Telstra testing their next stage and how well it’ll work. Not some new amazing technology that we’ve never seen. Contrary to the reporting.

  7. So users can rack up a $10 000 bill in a day? I don’t see the appeal. The tiny quotas already make 50mbps kind of pointless.

    Heres a free tip Telstra. Build a 4G network that encourages usage with quotas that allow so. A 450Mbps connection with even a 30GB quota is a Ferrari with a half litre fuel tank.

  8. Sigh. 450 megabits shared between a cell. (100+ people?)
    Vs 2500 megabits shared by upto 32 users.
    Explains the quota, thus prove differential

  9. This article once again demonstrates with the AFR should stick to subjects it has an inkling of understanding of.

    450Mbps is simply not possible with current chip-sets as they can only aggregate 20MHz total bandwidth. It would need 3 carriers EACH with 20MHz of contiguous bandwidth to get this speed. No individual carrier has sufficient spectrum in Australia.
    IE, right now LTE advanced offers WORSE performance than vanilla LTE with contiguous 20MHz bandwidth.
    If we measure the speed of GPON FTTP the same way they have for LTE Advanced then FTTP is delivering 2.5Gbps right now to every connected customer.
    The 450Mbps requires an impossibly long list of things to be exactly right and will not be seen much in the real world even during testing with only 1 unit operating.

    It will be a shared resource. Divide that amongst the number of users on the cell for actual rates.

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