Telstra launching Australia's first 4G USB modem

By danwarne, August 8 2011
Telstra launching Australia's first 4G USB modem

Business travellers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be the first to get a taste of super high-speed 4G/LTE mobile broadband later this month.

Modems for Telstra's new 4G network will go on sale on August 29th. The network itself has been running in testing mode since May, but the public hasn't been able to access it yet.

The 4G/LTE coverage will only be available initially within 5km from the GPO in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, as Telstra builds out the network.

The telco is also being coy about what sort of speeds customers can expect, but has previously told The Australian newspaper that speed should be in the range of 2.6 - 47 Mbit/s in real life throughput.

The initial release of the modems will also be quite limited, with only 2,000 initially being made available to business customers who have Telstra account managers, ahead of a wider public release later in the year.

“The commercial pilot will give some of our customers a taste of the faster speeds, greater capacity and quicker response times that can be available for mobile services on 4G ahead of our national launch in major capital cities and selected regional centres later this year," says Telstra CEO David Thodey.

Taking a load off Next G

Telstra's market-leading 3G network, Next G, has been slowing down in the past year as the telco has taken on hundreds of thousands of new customers defecting from Optus, Vodafone and 3's underperforming networks.

The telco giant has admitted the congestion on its network as a result of having taken on so many customers in a short period of time, but says the opening of the 4G network will spread the enormous load between the two networks.

It's possible Telstra may give incentives such as free or heavily discounted modem upgrades for its heaviest-usage customers -- laptop modem users -- to move to the 4G network to free up airtime on Next G.

The telco has a track record with this scenario, when it closed down its CDMA network and issued free Next G modems to customers still using the CDMA/EV-DO network before it closed down.

“Australian businesses already tell us they want fast, reliable mobile broadband with more than two million customers connecting to our network for internet on the go. Our investment in next-generation 4G mobile technology will help meet Australia’s growing demand for faster speeds and create additional capacity in our network," Thodey said.

The first 4G modem

The first 4G modem going on sale, the Telstra USB 4G, will use dual mode 4G/3G HSPA technology enabling it to operate across 4G network where it is available and switchover to HSPA technology across the Next G network.

As a result, people switching up to 4G won't need to give up coverage, because Next G will always be available as a fall-back option.

It can be purchased in conjunction with a range of plans including for $0 upfront on the $49 Telstra Mobile Broadband Standard Plan over 24 months (minimum total cost $1,176) with 7GB of data included.

It will be available from 29 August through Telstra Business and Telstra Enterprise & Government account managers.

Telstra is taking expressions of interest from customers who would like to be among the first to receive information about the national launch of Telstra’s 4G service in Australia.

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