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.