What you need to know about 4G
Before purchasing a SIM, modem, antenna, cables, etc it's important to understand the differences that separates 4G LTE from other networks.
What is 4G
4G is a (Fourth Generation) high speed data service that uses the LTE radio standard to operate on mobile phone technology. It's critical to understand that 4G is an internet (packet) service, and is not currently used to make or receive phone calls. This means that even in 4G areas your mobile phone will connect to a 3G tower to make a phone call.
Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone - Network Comparison
All three major network operators in Australia provide 4G networks. Telstra currently has the largest network with 4G being available in all metro areas, including over 300 regional towns across Australia. Optus is heavily investing in their 4G network and is fast closing the gap, with plans to cover over 200 regional towns by early 2015. Vodafone is working hard on their network, but at the moment is only available in select areas in capital cities.
Telstra 4G and 4GX
As of early 2015 Telstra will be launching their 4G network expansion which includes two additional carrier frequencies - 700MHz and 2600MHz, on top of their existing 1800MHz network. The expansion, coined 4GX, will provide significantly more capacity, meaning less congestion and faster average speeds. Using Carrier Aggregation the 4GX network will also allow compatible 4G modems to operate on all three frequencies at once, increasing maximum peak speeds - theoretically as high as 300Mbps (using 3x 20MHz carriers).
Just like Telstra, Optus too have begun the rollout of their 700 and 2600MHz LTE networks which will support carrier aggregation, providing faster average and peak data rates. Both networks aim for 90% population coverage in 2015. The network gets a little confusing with Optus also operating a 2300MHz 4G service in select areas such as Canberra.
Not having purchased any 700MHz spectrum, Vodafone have instead decided to convert their existing 850MHz 3G network into a 4G network instead to compete with the new Telstra and Optus long range networks. This network runs in parallel with their existing 1800MHz 4G network.
What's so great about the new frequency bands?
With so many changes to 4G in Australia, it's an exciting time to jump on board a 4G network. We're about to see the 700MHz 4G network switched on by Telstra and Optus in early 2015 (with some locations already having early access). This network is going to be a game changer - one of the major drawbacks with the older 1800MHz 4G network has been its high carrier frequency doesn't travel particularly far and doesn't penetrate well indoors. 700MHz on the other hand having such a low frequency travels significantly further, bends around and behind hills, and penetrates much easier inside buildings, providing coverage similar to Telstra Next-G - meaning high speed data will now be available as far as you can make a phone call (in switched-on areas).
There's not a lot of publicity about the new 2600MHz 4G network, but despite having a very short range it's important to help reduce congestion in densely populated areas such as city centres where the operation of a long range transmitter would have considerable self interference (due to the long reuse distance required).
Concepts such as MIMO, antenna type, and selection will be discussed further in the relevant menu product categories below
Thanks to our Partner Telco Antennas.