Telstra, the largest Australian wireless carrier, has announced that its Gigabit-class (~1000Mbps) LTE network is now operational. Telstra was aiming to have it ready by the end of 2016, so with a small delay, things are now up and running.
The first device to fully support LTE Gigabit-class speeds will be the Netgear Nighthawk M1 portable 4G router (~$360). This device can support up to 20 devices connected simultaneously over WiFi AC (for ~24 hours!) and will communicate with the internet over Gb 4G LTE. We’ve seen this device in previous tech events, although we didn’t know which carrier would first release it.
Telstra has built the network with the help of Ericsson, while Qualcomm and NETGEAR have worked together to build the Nighthawk client device which uses the Qualcomm X16 Gb-class modem, the same one found in the Snapdragon 835 SoC, just as expected.
Just moments ago, we watched a live demonstration of the Telstra network capabilities with a speed test that reached ~900 Mbps (download), near enough to deserve the Gigabit-class name. The speed may fluctuate as the network is onboarding customers (in “late February”), but this is proof that given enough capacity, the wireless communications technology can reach that speed. In theory, the upload speed can reach ~150 Mbps.
A couple of years ago (Sept 2015), Telstra was also on a “first”: 600Mbps download speeds, and this is part of LTE’s gradual improvement. Note that LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and it’s fair to say that LTE has lived up to its name.
"GIGABIT LTE WILL BECOME THE FOUNDATION FOR 5G"This is not quite over yet for LTE but reaching Gigabit-class speeds is also a step as networks will transit over to 5G in the next decade. Every company involved in today’s launch are saying that Gigabit-Class LTE is critical for this transition. “Gigabit LTE will become the foundation for 5G” says Peter Carson, Director of Marketing at Qualcomm.
All companies involved are quick to point out that peak performance is not the only goal, although it is an important metric. Being able to transmit data faster, also means that network resources become available faster as well. This will convert into better network capacity and availability and raise the general user experience.