13 Feb 2013
By Mike Wright

Telstra 4G network set to get faster

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This week we announced that Telstra continues to keep on top of the wireless technology curve and will launch two ‘Category 4’, or CAT4 devices, for use on our 4G network s later this year – a wi-fi dongle and a handset. What does this mean? Well, that’s a question that needs to be answered on two levels. Firstly, the tech explanation; secondly what this means practically for customers and for Telstra.

What does this mean technically?

CAT 4 devices are rated as capable of 150Mbps peak device downlink speeds. This compares with the CAT3 devices which are rated at 100Mbps peak device downlink speeds. Of course customers will experience slower speeds in real world conditions and it is the combination of the strength of the Next G® network with the new Cat4 device which means Telstra customers can experience the fastest mobile network speed in Australia.

The factors that influence typical user speeds include the following:

  • Technology in use eg 3G: HSPA, HSPA+, or DC-HSPA+; 4G LTE using a Cat 3or Cat4 device
  • The amount or bandwidth of spectrum in use: for 3G: 5 MHz for HSPA and HSPA+; 10 MHz for DC-HSPA+; 4G: typically 10, 15 or 20 MHz depending on location
  • The signal level/quality: this varies depending on distance from the mobile base station and the amount of unwanted signal that might degrade quality
  • The connection from the base station to the network – sometimes called backhaul:  this is a big one! There is no point using the latest wireless technology if the tower or cell is not using a high bandwidth connection back into the core network. In the Telstra network over 93% of the population is served by a base station with 1Gigabit capable backhaul.  These are currently configured at either more than 100 or 200 Mbps per site
  • Other user factors: such as time of day, location of the user, the number of other users on the network and what they are doing

We currently advise customers that the typical download speeds that a customer experiences using a CAT3 device are between 2Mbps – 40Mbps, depending on the above factors.

In our laboratory testing for the new Cat4 devices, we have seen peak device speeds of well over 100 Mbps. So far in live field trials in Perth and Esperance where we have 20MHz of contiguous spectrum, we’ve seen device speeds of over 90Mbps, however the speed a customer typically experiences will be across a broad range, due to the factors I explained above. Suffice to say though, the download speeds a customer experiences using a CAT4 device can be faster than those obtained using a CAT3 device, all other things being equal.

To gain greatest advantage of the faster speeds of a CAT4 device, it needs to be combined with a 4G network offered over 20MHz of contiguous spectrum; this is the widest bandwidth that LTE can use ahead of LTE-Advanced technologies which will come in future years. In some areas of WA, including Perth and Esperance Telstra already has 20MHz of contiguous spectrum in the 1800MHz band so customers in these areas will be the first to be able to experience the speed advantage of a CAT4 device.

What does this mean for customers and for Telstra?

The biggest advantage that outright speeds bring is extra capacity in a wireless network. In reality, as a customer you’re speed is more likely to be limited by the source of the data you are downloading, so in many cases you are not going to notice too much if you’re downloading at 20Mbps or 60Mbps. High def video will still stream well on both speeds, websites will appear to load almost instantaneously. So why is Telstra focussed on bringing the latest technology to our customers?

Each generation of wireless technology is more efficient than the one that precedes it. Much of the reason for this is that as wireless technologies are developed they are designed to deliver faster speeds.

Now the faster you can deliver data, the more capacity you have on your network. To use an analogy, not only can vehicles move faster down a freeway, we are also adding more lanes to the freeway. The two combine to give a more consistent and satisfactory customer experience.

Increased speed also increases capacity because it means that more of our customers can be on the network at one time, and each have the speeds to support what they are doing.

Related Links


Posts: 38


  1. rocco says:


    Do you have many 1800MHz sites with 20 MHz of bandwidth available ? (apart from trial sites)

    Or will we have to wait for the eventual 700MHz spectrum to become available to see 20MHz spectrum being used

    • Gigi [Telstra Staff] says:

      Hi Rocco,

      Telstra currently has 20MHz of contiguous 1800MHz spectrum in Perth and Esperance. We are working with the industry and ACMA to restack our 1800MHz in other states, and this work should be done in calendar year 2013.

  2. Wayne says:

    Are any of your existing handsets/dongles Cat 4, and if so, is there a list of existing hardware Telstra customers may be using which will benefit from this?

    • Gigi [Telstra Staff] says:

      Hi Wayne,

      Currently we don’t range any Cat 4 devices, but will commence stocking a handset and a Wi-Fi enabled dongle by the end of this financial year.

  3. Mark says:

    As fair as I am concerned the 4G modem is a heap of junk if you live outside of a city or larger town, country people as usual always come last and still have to pay full fee as city people, I live at Loowood outside from Ipswich and play games well try to, the coverage of the 4G is terrible and in seconds can have a ping from 44 to 17000 and sometimes takes up to a minute or two just to open a page, sometimes I can check emails or facebook straight away other times can take a long time to open the page, and if you cap your internet with the 4G just forget about trying to access web pages course you will be waiting a while for it to open go make a cuppa and come back, but will admit when you do get a good signal strength the 4G is very fast indeed, country people as far as I am concerned are getting ripped off by Telstra and should only have to pay half price for a poor signal strength, I do not recommend this modem to anyone who plays games and is only good for web browsing if you live in a country area away from larger towns

    • Chris G says:

      Hi Mark,

      Have you tried using an antenna? Some Telstra Stores are currently stocking a 4G MIMO for $99 (essentially a multiple antenna in one package) antenna which I have seen improve reception.

      Otherwise, you might want to look into getting a YAGI antenna mounted on your roof, but you’re best to discuss these options with your local Telstra Store, or by calling Telstra Mobile Faults on 13 22 03 and saying “Mobile Fault”.

      Hope this helps.

      Disclaimer: Although I work for Telstra, the views represented here are my own and are not necessarily the views of Telstra. This post in not made in conjunction with my job at Telstra.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, I fitted out my wireless 4 G USB with MIMO and shot from 7/8 Mbps to over 30 hitting a high of 32 Mbps, and according to the Telstra 4G coverage area map I am at least 5 Klm’s outside of their current coverage area, so I would recommend installing a good quality MIMO antenna, well worth it as I am also receiving constant reliable higher speeds

  4. Marc Kean says:

    Hi Mike,

    I read this article about the new CAT4 4G LTE, and I truly from the bottom of my heart love what you guys are doing, always innovating and testing, trying to stay on top of the game, this is why I am customer of Telstra, I have a mobile 4G phone, mobile 4G broadband device, Bigpond cable at home, if there’s one person that has every device you have, it would be me.

    I hear you saying you are planning to roll out the new 20Mhz of contiguous spectrum which is well and good, however you guys seriously need to fix what you have right now! Take the Sydney north shore train line, from Sydney CBD all the way up past Hornsby, via North Sydney, Gordon, Turramurra, Pymble, Chatswood etc. I travel on this train line twice every day at peak hour, just like everyone else. I get on the train near Hornsby at 7.16am and travel south into the CBD, coming home it’s between 5-5.30pm.

    I have heaps of trouble with the Telstra/Bigpond NextG network. There is no 4G until you get to St Leonards, but then very very lucky if the phone connects to 4G. Most of the time I am stuck on HSPA+ and other times even I am on E (Edge). I am using a new Samsung Galaxy S3, also tried using my black sierra 4G wifi hotspot with same results -- impossible to keep a successful connection to the internet. I can’t even stream radio stations with a large 30 second buffer, keeps timing out. When connecting to VPN into work and using to Remote Desktop to connect into servers, it’s frozen for most of the time and can’t do any work. I have used my Windows 8 laptop, my Samsung phone and my iPad all with the same results -- most of time at a complete stand still. I even spoke to a lady sitting next to me also on Telstra, she has an iPad with a data SIM card and trying to watch mobile Foxtel with the new Foxtel GO app -- nothing at all, keeps popping up with messages about network timeout.

    So while you are quite willing to adopt all these new services and stay ahead, you need to get the basics right first -- fix what is out there. It’s not like the North Shore train line doesn’t have any people -- there’s heaps of people and most are all Telstra paying customers frustrated like me, can’t do any work and stuck on a train for a the good part of a day with no communication to the outside world.

    Some other links below where I have commented on the same thing. Please fix this.

  5. Stephen says:

    What does the DC signal on a 4G wireless modem mean to my security?

    • Gigi [Telstra Staff] says:

      Hi Stephen,

      Good question. To be honest, I have never heard of the DC signal affecting the security of a product, but I’m not an expert in this area. I recommend you chat to our customer service team via 24x7 online Live Chat. You can find them here:×7-service
      Bigpond Tech Support will probably also be handy, they can be contacted via this number: 133 933

  6. [...] brag about getting 90 megabits per second (Mbps) download speeds using CAT4 4G devices in Perth could [...]

  7. Tom says:

    For more than 18months here in Mildura vic, 4G has not been expanded anymore than it’s initial installation of 2 city towers, seems like there’s more Company sales blurb being rolled out rather than actual expansion of the 4G service, now we are told of this new “Faster than ever” service, sounds like political speak, “of keeping the punters amused”.

    hard not to be cynical these days.


  8. Andrew G says:

    Hi Marc,

    congestion is a beast of an issue to resolve.

    please note though, that increasing capacity on UMTS 850 is not the only solution to the problem -- shifting customer activity over to a more efficient and advanced technology also helps to free up capacity on older tech (I.e. Moving people to 4G from 3G).

    So yes Telstra are doing the basics right by deploying new tech to reduce congestion. There’s more then one way to help minimize the issue of congestion, another is to increase prices.

    (Insert standard I work for Telstra but expressing my own opinions stuff here)

    • Tom says:

      Hi Andrew, I’d be happier if you and other Telco’s charged more, “Giving away the service for FREE” has caused congestion on all networks IMO.
      It would take the stroke of a pen to achieve this, but to increase network expansion to ease congestion takes many years and is pointless if again you “sell the service for FREE”.

  9. Marc Kean says:

    Just heard from an official Telstra representative, they are however pleased to advise that over the next several months their engineers will introduce network expansions and technology upgrades at 27 NextG® sites along Sydney rail corridors which will boost Wireless performance in the trains and surrounding areas.

  10. Naomi says:

    We are so behind the rest of the world with internet its embarassing. We need way faster internet, way better coverage in regional towns, cheaper prices and more choice in providers. I just got a telstra 4g prepaid mobile & its $20 for 125mb of data!!! What can i do with that? Slightly more than nothing! Send a couple of photos & a file? & $180 for 12G I go with Telstra for the coverage but the prices are disgusting but when u live in the bush what choices r there? We need more companies on equal playing field with Telstra so the services can improve & prices can go down. As i write this my iphone just lost coverage & thats with telstra. I write this with one bar. Please aust govt we need more services! I struggle daily to do my work just cause i want to live on acreage.

    • James says:

      @Naomi. Sorry, but Telstra’s network is world class. The US doesn’t even have standard LTE for the vast majority of the country. Only cutting edge tech regions like S Korea and HK have LTE-A and Telstra is rolling it out this year. Not exactly a backwater. Of course coverage isn’t as good in the bush as in the cities. That’s one of the costs of choosing to live in the bush (trust me, there are many downsides to living in the cities which are worse than spotty mobile coverage). Having said that Telstra has the best network in Australia in terms of coverage by a very long margin (hence the reason you’re using it youself:).

  11. Rob says:


    Are you able to say when will the 4G CAT4 Mobile Broadband usb device be available to purchase from Telstra

    • Gigi [Telstra Staff] says:

      Hi Rob,

      Stay-tuned and watch this space!! They’re coming soon and we’ll let you know details as soon as we have them.

    • Rob says:

      Hi You said soon, how soon is soon, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months etc, thanks

      • Az [Telstra Community Manager] says:

        Hi Rob,
        Not sure! You’re in the right place to find out as soon as we know though!

  12. Rob says:


    Can you please advise when a “Post Paid” LTE Cat 4 4G USB mobile broadband device will be released to the public, I know you have released a CAT 4 4 G Prepaid Wi Fi USB device however I would like the post paid, thanks


  13. Alexander Demchenko says:


    I was just wondering will the 4G networks slow internet down after construction has finished at the closest tower for long? Or does it just last for about a week

  14. Liam says:

    Does anyone know if the Galaxy Note 3 coming to Telstra this week will have CAT4 LTE?

  15. zakrussel says:

    I was simply pondering will the 4g systems ease web off after development has completed at the closest tower for long? Then again does it only keep going for a week

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