Why 375,000 4G Customers Is Slightly Bad News

Telstra's full-year financial results, released today, confirm that it has sold 375,000 4G devices since launching its 4G network in September last year. That demonstrates how much we value having high-speed connections on the go, but there's an unfortunate sting: the more people using it, the slower it gets.

I made the same point back in May (when the number of signed-up 4G customers was 300,000). The speeds on 4G are still going to be better than the 3G alternatives, but as more people sign up, they will inevitably decline. Telstra is investing heavily in network expansion, but there's a limit to how many towers it can deploy.

That said, 4G benefits customers who don't have devices connected to it, since demand on the 3G network is reduced if people are using the 4G alternative. That's harder to quantify in terms of the speed of your individual connection, but it's a definite benefit.

Telstra's current estimate is that its 4G network covers 40 per cent of the Australian population. That gives it broader scope than Optus' recently-launched rival 4G network or Vodafone's not happening until 2013 proposal.


    About 30 of those are sitting in the closet not being used because no one wants to carry around a massive dongle.

      Really? 'Cause the dongle is so much bigger than the laptop it plugs into...

      They aren't massive... and they are very useful. So I can see why they are so popular.

      I can't believe everyone left the massive dongle comment alone

        Best comment of the day

    The 4G speeds are unbelievable! This article is ok but fails to take into account the massive difference between usability on the 3g and 4g networks. 28Mbps is awesome. It's a far cry from the lax 3g speeds we've gotten used to over the past few years. Even if they had as many people on 4g as what they have on 3g - it would still be faster

      4G is "incredible" mainly because Telstra are artificially limiting the speeds on 3G and 3.5G (HSDPA+ or "NEXT-G" as they call it).

      HSPA+, can provide peak data rates up to 56 Mbit/s in the downlink in theory (28 Mbit/s in existing services) and 22 Mbit/s in the uplink.

      3G speeds are only poor due to contention ratios and artificial crippling by Telstra.

    This is why I'm really hoping the Iphone6 (or whatever it ends up being called) follows the new iPad in not supporting Telstra's "4G" spectrum.

    Totally selfish but I just don't want all those new users clogging up my nice fast 4G speeds.

    in all honesty the dongle is same size as many 3g dongle and at least it retracts upwards, so you dont have it sticking out of the side.

    A lot of people who purchase these devices aren't always within range of 4G, so it doesn't necessarily mean that all of those people who own a 4G device will be clogging up the networks. Only 1 in every 10 customers I serve happen to be in range of Telstra's network

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