Telecom LTE trial could be bad news for fibre

Friday saw Telecom’s 4G LTE trials go live in parts of Wellington and Auckland.

New Zealand is a relative laggard rolling out faster wireless broadband networks – Telstra began its commercial LTE service late in 2011. We’re around two years behind.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. When the Australian service went live there were hardly any devices able to make full use of the speeds on offer. That’s changed, 4G LTE devices continue to pour out from gadget makers at a pace.

LTE speeds are impressive. Telstra’s LTE network has a theoretical maximum speed of 100Mbps – the same as the top speeds offered to consumers on the UFB network being rolled out around New Zealand.

You have to be careful when wireless service providers talk of maximum speeds – the bandwidth is shared with other users. So in the real world no-one is likely to see 100Mbps.

Nevertheless, Australian tech journalist Adam Turner reported getting 55Mbps on a Galaxy Tablet. He says the upload speed was 14Mbps and he saw a ping time of 47ms. As he says: “Many people would kill for these kinds of broadband speeds at home let alone on the road.”

Telecom’s 4G is likely to be available in my suburb long before the fibre network gets here. The overseas evidence is that consumers and small businesses are keener to buy fast wireless broadband than fibre services. All things being equal, New Zealand’s telecommunications industry will get to test that idea before much longer.

6 thoughts on “Telecom LTE trial could be bad news for fibre

  1. The stupid thing is, when done right, Fibre should be a no-brainer for home, but they will try and charge you an arm and a leg for it and artificially throttle you down… NZ is lucky in not having too dense a population so wireless networks usually are fine, but if everything we had was on 4G it might get a bit crowded.

    I don’t think it’s right for companies to be able to play in the mobile and home broadband; it’s like companies selling petrol and the cars… you just know they aren’t being honest about something.

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    • For me the killer is timing. Telecom will put a 4G tower in my suburb in its first wave of network building. By this time next year… as for UFB, it’s probably going to take five or six years. And I can’t get halfway there with VDSL because the government wants to price discriminate against faster copper services. 4G will give me speed, and for now, ADSL will give me bulk data.

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  2. Having moved from Wellington to tiny Martinborough, I’d go for anything better than standard copper wire broadband. If LTE came ahead of fibre I’d take it. Fibre looks way, way off for us.

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    • I work for an Internet-based company in Taupo, we currently have 2 copper lines coming and we might as well be sending smoke signals most of the time. Fibre was installed last week, we’re betting whether it’ll even be better than what we got… when almost any move you do on the comp has to be sent over the Internet you effin know about it… NZ is so shite at it when we really shouldn’t be.

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    • From what I remember – and this could be out of date – places like Martinborough which don’t qualify as urban for UFB or rural for RBI will have to make do with ADSL. VDSL would be a possibility, but the government is thinking about price discrimination against copper broadband technologies.

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      • I’m sure you’re right – I remember seeing the smallest town fibre would go to and it was much bigger than Martinborough. Fortunately, DSL speed is not too bad here now – it used to be pathetic.

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