Telstra today have announced a successful trial on its 4G LTE network where speeds of 450Mbps were achieved. That’s three times the current maximum speeds of any 4G network in Australia. It’s also eighteen times max ADSL2+ speeds, twenty one times max 3G speeds, four times what you might expect from cable, and four times what you’ll get if you pay for max speeds on the coalition’s NBN at the end of 2016 (if it’s completed on schedule).
Before you get too excited let us rein you in. Firstly, this technology isn’t going to be implemented for a few years. Secondly, once it does finally come out, “maximum network speeds” very rarely approach real-world usage.
Right now, Category 4 (Cat4) 4G technology is said to run up to 150Mbps. Real world speeds differ hugely from that. You can get anywhere between 65Mbps and just 7Mbps on a 4G connection in metro areas. Using 40Mbps as a marker for current 4G, we might expect this 450Mbps test to drop to 27% once it hits the market.
Even so, that would be around a whopping 120Mbps streaming through your phone or tablet. That’s still 5x faster than your ADSL connection could possibly handle, and probably closer to 10x faster than it actually does.
Ok, admittedly technology doesn’t follow neat gradients. There’s no way of knowing how fast the 450Mbps tech will actually function in the hands of a user, but at the very least it’s bound to be crazy fast.
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Another piece of important info is just how Telstra managed to achieve this. Basically, it did it by using a whole lot more of its network bandwidth than usual. How much more? Three times more.
It’s not quite as simple as jamming more signal through a single device, and the engineering accomplishment really is quite impressive, but the process has us worried about network crowding. Remember what happened to Vodafone when it jammed too many people on to its network?
True, Telstra is a whole different animal, but could it really handle three times the traffic than it’s already dealing with? Not right now, certainly, but in a few years’ time...
One thing is certain: the future of tech remains as ever an exciting and fast-paced place. Right now we can’t think of any reason we’d actually want 120Mbps on a portable device, but then again people said the same about ADSL and desktop computers back when dial-up was still a thing.
Image credit: Flickr user Paolo