Telstra has officially named its new and improved low-frequency (700MHz) 4G network. Dubbed “4GX”, compatible devices will receive better 4G reception in doors and at greater distances from cell towers. They’ll also get a bump in speed, although 4G is already so fast compared to what phones are generally used for that it’s doubtful many will notice a difference in their daily use.
Along with the new network will be coming compatible WiFi hotspot gadgets, the first of which is made by Netgear and called the Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced II. It can support up to 10 devices simultaneously and is compatible with Category 6 (CAT6) 4G LTE for even greater speeds.
Will my phone work on it?
If you’ve bought a flagship phone that was released after February this year then the chances are good you’ll have 4GX support. Telstra currently offers six devices that will work on the new network, including the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S5 and the upcoming Galaxy Note 4.
It’s not all straight-forward. These devices will work on the 700MHz frequency, but to a different degree. All Telstra’s current range of compatible phones, with the exception of the Note 4, have what is called Category 4 (CAT4) support. CAT4 is relatively common in Australia, and up until now has been one of the fastest 4G options. Telstra’s official quote puts it at between 2Mbps and 75Mbps.
The Note 4 and Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced II are CAT6 enabled. This allows for significantly increased real-world speeds. At the demonstration, using the Galaxy Note 4, speeds upwards of 110Mbps were achieved. That’s faster than Telstra and Optus’ super-fast cable broadband connections, which are often capped at 100Mbps.
Of course, the network only went live in parts of Australia yesterday, so there’s no one else on them to create congestion. Speeds will likely fall once more people get on the 700MHz frequency, but even with all those people it’s likely to still be one hell of a ride.
The best news is that, if you have a compatible device, you’ll be automatically switched to the faster network whenever you’re within range. You don’t have to sign up to do anything or download any firmware upgrades to your phone. It should just work.
Where is it live?
This week the 4GX network has either gone live or is set to go live in parts of Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin and “10 regional centres”.
Telstra plans to cover all capital CBD centres and 50 regional locations by the 1st of January next year.