4G FU­TURE

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

A phone net­work go­ing places.

COM­PE­TI­TION for the fastest mo­bile in­ter­net con­nec­tion is heat­ing up.

Al­most a year af­ter 4G launched in Aus­tralia, Op­tus has joined the race, flick­ing the switch to the high­speed mo­bile phone net­work in Sydney, New­cas­tle and Perth.

Mel­bourne re­ceived the tech­nol­ogy from Op­tus last week, while Bris­bane and Ade­laide will have to wait un­til early next year.

But the mar­ket leader is plan­ning to boost its 4G cov­er­age fur­ther, with Tel­stra re­veal­ing a $ 500 mil­lion ex­pan­sion plan that would see twothirds of the pop­u­la­tion cov­ered by the mid­dle of next year.

It is also spruik­ing its early lead­er­ship, with mo­bile di­rec­tor An­drew Vo­lard dub­bing its sys­tem ‘‘ the only na­tional 4G- en­abled net­work’’.

Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­perts say ri­valry over the next- gen­er­a­tion net­work is likely to see con­sumers clam­our­ing for new de­vices and hand­set mak­ers scram­bling to meet de­mand.

Mo­bile 4G net­works de­liver a speed boost of up to five times the cur­rent 3G net­works, al­low­ing users to down­load large files and up­load pho­tos faster.

These net­works also of­fer less la­tency, mak­ing web pages load faster, videos stream with­out de­lay and in­ter­net voice calls sound more nat­u­ral. De­spite Op­tus’s de­layed ar­rival, Aus­tralians are al­ready prov­ing to be en­thu­si­as­tic adopters of 4G.

Tel­stra has re­vealed that af­ter one year, con­sumers have snapped up more than 500,000 4G de­vices, in­clud­ing 160,000 4G smart­phones – de­spite the avail­abil­ity of only four 4G mo­bile phones.

IDC an­a­lyst Aman Ba­jaj says the scarcity of 4G phones will turn around now that car­ri­ers are com­pet­ing for cus­tomers.

He says Sam­sung’s new 4G Galaxy S III phone is a prime ex­am­ple as the phone will be avail­able ex­clu­sively through Op­tus this month be­fore mov­ing to Tel­stra next month.

Tel­syte re­search di­rec­tor Foad Fadaghi says Ap­ple may also heed these developments when con­sid­er­ing whether to launch an iPhone com­pat­i­ble with Aus­tralian 4G net­works.

‘‘ They must en­sure they keep up with their com­peti­tors when it comes to 4G con­nec­tiv­ity,’’ he says.

‘‘ They can’t ig­nore 4G be­cause it’s just as big out­side the US as it is inside.’’

Tel­syte fore­casts big growth for the next- gen­er­a­tion net­works, pre­dict­ing Aus­tralians will be us­ing seven mil­lion 4G de­vices by 2016, when 4G con­nec­tions will rep­re­sent al­most 20 per cent of all mo­bile in­ter­net con­nec­tions.

Op­tus’s 4G launch will help make that hap­pen, with its 4G net­work cov­er­ing Bondi to New­ing­ton in Sydney, Perth Air­port to City Beach in Western Aus­tralia and all of New­cas­tle.

Vir­gin Mo­bile will also tap into Op­tus’s net­work to de­liver 4G phones, start­ing with Sam­sung’s lat­est of­fer­ing.

Tel­stra’s 4G net­work boost will go much fur­ther, how­ever, reach­ing a 10- 15km area around the Sydney GPO, 15- 20km around Mel­bourne’s GPO and from Bris­bane Air­port to In­dooroop­illy. The ex­pan­sion will in­volve the in­stal­la­tion of more than 1000 4G base sta­tions.

Voda­fone, in con­trast, does not plan to launch 4G ser­vices un­til some time next year.

AUS­TRALIA’S FAST MO­BILE NET­WORK MAP

All CBDs and 100 re­gional cen­tres Mid- 2013: Two- thirds of the pop­u­la­tion OP­TUS 4G COV­ER­AGE Now: Sydney, Perth, New­cas­tle ( se­lected ar­eas) Satur­day: Mel­bourne Early 2013: Bris­bane, Ade­laide VODA­FONE 4G COV­ER­AGE 2013: Se­lected ar­eas

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