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Telstra to launch LTE at end of month

Telstra is set to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) products to business and enterprise customers in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney by the end of this month, the company announced today.

Telstra is set to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) products to business and enterprise customers in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney by the end of this month, the company announced today.

4G dongle

An LTE dongle. (Credit: Telstra)

After announcing plans to upgrade its network in February with Ericsson to support LTE, Telstra will now stock up 2000 mobile broadband USB dual mode LTE/3G HSPA modems to sell to business and enterprise customers from 29 August for what the company markets as 4G services.

"Telstra's 4G-enabled network is the next generation in mobile broadband, and is set to offer Australians an even faster mobile connection," CEO David Thodey said in a statement. "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."

The Sierra Wireless USB modems will utilise spectrum in the 1800MHz and 850MHz spectrum bands and, as the devices are dual mode, in areas where LTE coverage is not available, the service will fall back to 3G. LTE coverage will initially extend to about five kilometres from the CBDs of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, where the company switched on the LTE network in May.

Telstra plans to offer the devices on a range of plans for Telstra Business and Telstra Enterprise & Government customers, including the Telstra Mobile $49 Standard Plan on a 24-month contract, with 7GB of data per month.

In trials of the technology with Ericsson between Sydney and Melbourne last year, the company was able to achieve throughput speeds of 80 megabits per second. Telstra told ZDNet Australia that LTE services would be "significantly faster" than that of 3G, but would not reveal specific expected speeds, saying that the company would be "revealing real-world device performance at our national launch later this year".

"Customers are going to notice a significant performance boost and less lag, thanks to significantly improved latency," Telstra said.

Thodey said that Telstra plans to launch consumer services later this year, and the network will be extended to all capital cities across Australia, as well as a number of major regional centres.

Use of the term 4G to describe LTE services remains controversial, as the body for deciding such standards, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has previously stated that while many companies are marketing their LTE technologies as 4G, the term 4G still remains undefined, and the ITU is not expected to recommend a definition for the term until 2012.

Rival telco Vodafone has announced plans to launch LTE services by the end of 2011; however, in a conference call last week, CEO Nigel Dews would not reveal a definite date for the launch of services, telling journalists that the adoption of new technology tends to take longer than people expect. Optus has conducted a number of LTE trials, but has not yet committed to a launch of LTE services, with CEO Paul O'Sullivan saying in May that he doesn't see consumer demand for 4G in the next 18 months.


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