Telstra has launched a consumer trial of its impending 4G LTE Advanced network in Perth, Fremantle, Esperance, Mildura, Mt Isa and Griffith. The new service has the potential to double current 4G speeds, double Telstra’s 4G capacity and significantly increase indoor 4G coverage and speed.
Further expansion will go live sometime in January next year (2015). The current rollout is part of a test phase to iron out any potential interference with the network.
What is LTE Advanced?
LTE Advanced (LTE-A) is a combination of a few approaches to network technologies. Telstra plans to combine its new 700MHz spectrum network, which is what the initial consumer trial will function over, with an 1800MHz network. The two frequencies will allow Telstra to shunt customers back and forth depending on usage demands, in order to keep its network uncongested and moving freely.
The 700MHz bit is quite important. Being a low frequency, this part of the band is better at penetrating solid obstacles. That means better in-door reception, or better reception when you’re surrounded by buildings or other physical blockers.
Moreover, Telstra owns 20MHz of contiguous bandwidth in the 20MHz spectrum. This once again can allow for faster speeds. This is also the same thing that allows Vodafone and Optus’ “Cat4 4G” networks to operate, although they use a higher frequency and thus don’t benefit from better indoor coverage.
When will I get it?
So far, only two phones from Telstra can operate on the 700MHz frequency – the HTC One (M8) was the first, followed shortly by the Samsung Galaxy S5. There is also one dedicated 4G Advanced mobile broadband device that can be obtained through the carrier.
The good news is that you don’t need a compatible device to benefit from all of this. The new system should free up congestion on the existing 4G bandwidths, too. So anyone with a 4G device will hopefully notice an increase in broadband speeds once the rollout hits their area.
Further expansion should begin in earnest at the beginning of next year. Until then stay tuned for more LTE-A updates.
“4G Advanced technology is the next evolution of our 4G service and brings together two spectrum bands - 700MHz and 1800MHz - to serve up ultra-fast data speeds. It will be capable of providing customers double the speeds they currently experience on the 4G network, plus better 4G coverage indoors and beyond.” - Mike Wright, Telstra Group Managing Director Networks
Image credit: Flickr user eGuideTravel