Telstra's 4G LTE network is now one of the fastest in the world, and points toward the speeds consumers in other nations can expect in the future.
Move over, U.S. carriers: There’s a new speed demon in town. At the Gigabit LTE Experience Summit in Sydney, Australia, on January 30, mobile operator Telstra launched the “world’s fastest” 4G LTE network, capable of offering download speeds of up to one gigabit per second and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps.
The new service, which will launch in Sydney and other select Australian cities in the coming weeks, is ten times as fast as the country’s National Broadband Network. And it’s significantly faster than U.K. carriers such as EE, which advertises a peak download speeds of 90 Mbps, Virgin Media (50Mbps), and BT Infinity (76Mbps).
Telstra says it’s fast enough that customers should be able to download an HD movie in three minutes, and an hour-long TV show in as little as 16 seconds.
Not every customer will be able to take advantage of this offering. Telstra’s new service requires Netgear’s Nighthawk M1 gigabit LTE mobile router. But the carrier expects future smartphones to be “fully compatible” with the network’s technologies.
Telstra’s network should be a boon for virtual reality and high-resolution video. Some studies estimate that 360-degree videos require four to six times the amount of bandwidth of traditional video. And high-resolution 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) clips, on average, consume twice as much traffic as standard-definition (SD) movies and TV shows (streaming video service Netflix says it needs a minimum of 15 Mbps for 4K compared to 5 Mbps for SD, for instance).
“As our customers continue to use increasing amounts of data for entertainment and business use, Telstra’s continuous innovation ensures out network is ready to deliver the country’s best mobile experience,” Telstra Group Managing Director Mike Wright said in a press release. “We are well placed to evolve our 4G network and are putting the building blocks in place for Australia to be ready for 5G — this will deliver more bandwidth and lover latencies which are critical for emerging applications such as downloading 4K video, IoT, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and shared virtual reality.”
The rollout of Telstra’s super-fast network comes as U.S. carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile prepare to deploy high-speed solutions of their own. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, AT&T said that it expected to achieve widespread 4G LTE speeds of 1Gbps thanks to “optimizations” and “thousands” of new antennas. It expects to begin the first trials in Austin, Texas, during the first half of this year.
Verizon began testing 1Gbps connectivity in select cities earlier this year. Sprint said it would deliver 1Gbps speeds in 2017. And T-Mobile, not to be outdone, contends that it’s the only network in the U.S. to have measured 1Gbps on its existing network.