Faster than a speeding bullet.
DOWNLOADING websites, photos or anything on the go is now a lot faster.
Media downloaded with a mobile modem can appear up to three times as fast after Telstra launched its fourth generation ( 4G) mobile phone network late last month.
The 4G network offers download speeds as fast as 70 megabits a second with significantly shorter delays, allowing users to download TV shows, stream songs or pull down updates without hesitation.
The network is available within 5km of Australia’s eight capital cities and can be accessed with a mobile broadband modem, though compatible smartphones are in development.
In Tasmania, the 4G network coverage is available in central Hobart.
Competition is also on the way with Optus announcing it will jump on the 4G bandwagon next year and Vodafone revealing plans to launch a 4G network when devices can support it.
Experts say 4G networks could be a ‘‘ game-changer’’ for internet users for their data speeds and the ability to free-up 3G phone networks.
But analysts warn initial speeds could fall if the network proves popular and 4G services may not be fast or reliable enough to replace a wired broadband connection.
Telstra began trialling its 4G network in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on August 29, reusing the frequency dedicated to the 2G phone network and issuing 2000 4G USB modems.
IDC Australia research director Dustin Kehoe says the 4G network could be invaluable for mobile workers but could also open up new multimedia services for consumers.
‘‘ It has yet to be proven in Australia, but I’ve seen some amazing speeds coming out of Sweden with LTE and the US,’’ Kehoe says. ‘‘ It’s a definite game-changer. ‘‘ Depending on who you talk to, it could offer speeds of 100 megabits per second and latency [ delays] below 20 milliseconds.
‘‘ That opens up a lot of opportunities to services like mobile TV and other data-heavy applications.’’
While the 4G networks are only available on computers now, Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says it might only be months before smartphones use the high-speed networks.
‘‘ All the popular handsets will have LTE in the future, while being able to fall back on the 3G networks too,’’ Fadaghi says.
‘‘ It won’t be too long before we see multi-band devices – within 12 months they will be popular.’’
But Fadaghi says moving heavy data users off the 3G mobile network will also deliver a speed boost to existing smartphone users.
In addition to Telstra, Optus plans to launch a competing network by next April. Vodafone has also committed to launching a 4G ( LTE) network, following a trial near Newcastle late last year.
The company has yet to release launch dates, however chief executive has Nigel Dews stated it will not arrive until compatible devices ‘‘ are available at mass-market prices’’.