In move to 5G, Telstra boasts Gigabit LTE speeds

Telstra’s mobile broadband hotspot is capable of up to 1 Gbps peak download speeds thanks to Category 16 LTE technology.

Noting that it’s a step closer to 5G, Australia’s Telstra is boasting about having the world’s first commercial Gigabit LTE network and device with partners Ericsson, Qualcomm and Netgear.

At a launch event in Sydney on Tuesday, the mobile operator said Gigabit LTE is an important step on its journey to 5G and demonstrated its commitment to delivering Australians a “world class network now and into the future.” The service is being rolled out in select capital cities across Australia with more to come.

Part of what’s making it all work is the Qualcomm Technologies’ Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which is Qualcomm's first Gigabit LTE modem. Netgear is providing the Nighthawk M1 mobile router with Gigabit LTE technology (Category 16 LTE Advanced). Ericsson’s Lean Carrier technology is part of the mix as well.

Features of the Telstra Gigabit LTE include the following: 4x4 MIMO, three carrier aggregation and higher order modulation (256 QAM). On the uplink, Telstra’s new network capability uses 64 QAM and two carrier aggregation for a peak upload speed of up to 150 Mbps.

Last year, Signals Research Group (SRG) conducted tests showing the user experience and network efficiency benefits that resulted when Ericsson Lean Carrier was enabled on the Telstra network. Telstra configured the network so that SRG could conduct tests both with Ericsson Lean Carrier enabled and disabled, ensuring a valid basis for comparison. 

Ericsson was not aware of the test campaign until just prior to SRG releasing the study in its subscription-based Signals Ahead publication. The user device used in that testing was the Netgear 810S mobile hotspot (Category 11 device) with the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem.  

For all of the tests, SRG had multiple FTP downloads occurring simultaneously in order to maximize the amount of data being sent through the network. In the mobility testing, SRG observed numerous regions along the drive route where 256 QAM availability was higher with Ericsson Lean Carrier enabled. In stationary testing, the incidence of 64 and 256 QAM use increased by 67%. In addition to improved efficiency, greater utilization of 256 QAM also increased the data rates users experienced, enabling peak LTE data rates of 1 Gbps for gigabit LTE equipped networks.

With its latest technology upgrade, Telstra said the Telstra Nighthawk M1 is capable of up to 1 Gbps peak download speeds thanks to Category 16 LTE technology, which aggregates up to four bands of spectrum to deliver extreme download speeds in compatible coverage areas. Telstra Nighthawk M1 is also capable of upload speeds of 150 Mbps, and the Telstra mobile network is enabled to support 1 Gbps speeds in select sites across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane central business districts.

Putting 1 Gbps in context, the operator said it will make top speeds on the network about 20 times faster than they were when it first released 4G in 2011. Customers will be able to connect up to 20 Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously. Nighthawk M1 also features the latest standard in Wi-Fi, 802.11ac.

Editor's Note: Article updated Feb. 2 to reflect that the X16 is Qualcomm's first Gigabit LTE modem, not its first 5G modem, which is the X50.