Computers & Technology

by Darryl Budge

What is 4G internet access?

4G is the fourth generation of mobile data communication, succeeding third generation (3G) standards. 4G provides mobile ultra-broadband Internet access. In Australia, the main carriers are releasing 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), with theoretical mobile speeds of up to 100megabits per second downstream and 50 megabits upstream.

In the real world, tests of 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) from Telstra and Optus has given average downstream speeds of 10-20Mb/s, and up to 40Mb/s in uncongested areas with the highest spectrum available (Perth especially).

4G speeds rely on “multiple in, multiple out” (MIMO) technology using many antennas in the receiver and transmitter, and frequency division (the FD in FD-LTE) for full-duplex transmission in 10-20Mhz of contiguous spectrum.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone (who also own the deprecated 3 network) are upgrading their cellular networks to high-speed 4G FD-LTE services in the 1800Mhz band. The speedy rollout is driven by the huge amount of 4G devices coming to market (about two-thirds of all new 2013 phones will have 4G) and the need to ease congestion on the frequency bands used by 3G.

Telstra launched their 4G services in 2011. They now reach 40 percent of the population and are aiming to cover 66 percent by June 2013. Currently their 4G network covers every capital city and 100 regional centres. On the Telstra network, 4G devices also have an advantage in some 3G areas, as they are DC-HSDPA enabled, which means speeds of up to 42mbps. Telstra is the only network offering 3G DC-HSDPA.

Optus has 4G services in the central parts of Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Adelaide. ACT services will be launched by mid-2013.

In April 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) auctioned the 700MHz "Digital Dividend" and 2600MHz spectrum for the provision of 4G FD-LTE services. Telstra and Optus are expected to participate in both auctions, while Vodafone has stated it will only participate in the 2600MHz auction.

TomTom Routes screenshot
TomTom screenshot: A handy route planner for those without a GPS

Alternative free mapping and traffic information

Navigate to <> for a handy second opinion for working out how to get places while avoiding heavy traffic, accidents, and road works. Roads are colour coded according to available congestion data.

Launched in 2009 for Australian users, it also covers New Zealand, North America and Western Europe, as well as some parts of Africa and Asia.

The route calculations and visual information are not as quickly available as Google Maps, but as they are based on real-world user data, TomTom Route Planner is more likely to guide you directly to your intended destination.

One feature TomTom lacks is public transport data, which Google Maps offers for a huge number of cities and provinces throughout the world. See








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