Australian incumbent Telstra wil begin offering USB modems designed to take advantage of its in-deployment Long Term Evolution (LTE) network from the end of this month. According to local paper The Australian, the telco will initially make available around 2,000 of its 4G modems to business and enterprise customers as part of a limited rollout of services ahead of a wider commercial launch, which is expected to take place later this year. While Telstra has confirmed pricing for the device – it will cost business customers nothing upfront on the AUD49 (USD52) Telstra Mobile Broadband Standard Plan over 24 months with a 7GB monthly data allowance – it has yet to confirm the speeds that will be offered over the new network. While trials conducted by the telco last year saw it achieve downlink speeds of 149.4Mbps in a controlled environment, and 69.3Mbps in field tests, commenting on the possible real-world speeds a Telstra executive noted: ‘I don’t have a ball park at this stage other than to say that it will be faster than our HSPA+ Ultimate devices which achieve up to 20Mbps download speeds and up to 3Mbps upload.’
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2011 Telstra Mobile, the operator’s wireless unit, revealed that it had switched on its first LTE-enabled base stations, activating equipment at sites in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Telstra Mobile is thought to be keen to be the first to launch 4G services commercially, with that development only the first step towards that aim, with Mike Wright, the company’s executive director for network and access technologies, noting at the time: ‘This is the first test call on an integrated network using the 1800MHz spectrum, but this really marks the beginning of the rollout, not the end.’ During the limited launch period services for those customers that pick up the new 4G USB modems will remain limited to area within the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, while the modem will use dual mode 4G/3G HSPA technology enabling it to operate across the 1800MHz and 850MHz spectrum bands; the technology will allow customers to connect to the LTE network where available, while dropping down to Telstra’s HSPA network, which covers around 99% of the population, in other areas.