If you're looking at buying a new mobile device, especially one that's an import, it's worth knowing which Australian networks it will support. These are all the frequencies currently used in Australia.
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With the calendar rolling over to 2015, the 700Mhz spectrum split up between Optus, TPG and Telstra is fully available for carriers to use. We've already seen Optus' plans roll out overnight, and now Telstra's released a fuller picture of its 700Mhz "4GX" plans.
Is Vodafone's 4G any good? It entirely depends on where you're located. Our five-city speed tests show the CBD areas of Sydney and Brisbane offer impressive speeds, but 4G doesn't have as much of a speed boost in Perth, Adelaide or Melbourne, and lower-speed 3G coverage remains the norm at airports.
Over the past week, I've been testing the performance of Vodafone's brand-new 4G network in Sydney and Melbourne. The verdict? It's sometimes very fast, but coverage is fairly limited, the existing Vodafone 3G network seems as flaky as ever, and it still suffers sometimes from the 'Vodafone moment': that point where the service suddenly becomes hopelessly slow and you want to stick a knife into anything sporting a Vodafone logo.
Telstra has announced plans to release upgraded 4G dongles and handsets that will offer theoretical speeds of up to 150Mbps. Yet the very large difference between the theoretical maximum and what users can actually expect to receive reminds us that however useful they are, mobile networks have inherent speed maximisation issues.
Oh-so-slightly ahead of the originally planned 2013 rollout, Optus has rolled out 4G coverage in central Adelaide. You can see the areas covered on the map (green indicates the 4G reception zone).
Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are all now selling the latest model iPad (with 4G SIM capability and retina-hyped screen) on contract plans with a included SIM and a monthly data allowance. Who has the best deal? Planhacker round them all up so you can compare.
Optus launched prepaid options for 4G mobile phones earlier this week, and has now revealed pricing for its prepaid 4G mobile broadband options. The basic dongle costs $169 and includes 6GB of data, while the hotspot costs $199 and includes 10GB of data.
Optus' rollout of 4G continues to expand. A handful of sites have gone live in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, ahead of a broader update for both cities scheduled for December and January.
Alongside Melbourne and Sydney, Perth is the third Australian capital to have rival 4G LTE services from both Telstra and Optus. When it comes to performance, there's actually a clear winner, but the main lesson continues to be that 4G services vary hugely in the performance they can offer -- even within the radius of a block.
"Why do we need faster networks anyway?" is a constant refrain on talkback radio. The use of LTE mobile networks for police, fire and ambulance services provides a compelling answer to that question and much of the technology needed already exists, but there are many hurdles to overcome before public safety services can make use of them.
4G networks aren't invariably quicker, but their higher speeds mean you can spend a lot of money. With the iPhone 5 bringing many more people into the 3G realm, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has highlighted same basic strategies to ensure you don't waste money needlessly.
My Melbourne 4G testing continues to demonstrate that absolute statements about network superiority don't carry much weight. In one suburban test yesterday, Optus 4G got beaten by Telstra 3G; in one CBD test today, Optus 4G topped Telstra 4G.