In an attempt to further improve its standing as the provider of the fastest mobile broadband in Australia, Telstra (ASX: TLS) has announced that it has begun trials of the next generation of broadband technology. The technology, called ‘carrier aggregation’, or LTE-A, joins three separate radio frequencies together in order to provide superior internet speeds.
Laboratory testing has demonstrated download speeds of 450 megabits per second (MBPS) for the technology. These speeds will most likely not be repeatable in a commercial setup when thousands of users are connected to the service, but speeds of 150 MBPS appear reasonable. This compares well with the proposed NBN speeds of 100 MBPS (Labour’s fibre to the home) and 50 MBPS (Liberal’s fibre to the node).
Telstra has not detailed how long until the technology will be ready to roll out across Australia, although at present there is only one phone on the market capable of using it. To coincide with the rollout of the world’s first LTE-A network by SK Telecom in South Korea, Samsung has released a version of its flagship Galaxy S4 with the correct radios to use the technology. SK Telecom has advertised actual data speeds of up to 150 MBPS which would download an 800MB movie in around 43 seconds.
Carriers in North America and Russia have expressed an interest in developing LTE-A networks in the next 6 to 12 months, with more expected to follow in a similar manner to the rollout of the now-common 4G technology.
The next generation (6G) of the technology is expected to produce actual speeds of up to 300 MBPS.
Telstra was the first to set up a 4G network in Australia and look like it’ll be the first to set up the next generation network too. The network, when available, will likely draw more customers to the telco and allow the company to charge higher rates for faster data. With the NBN forcing Telstra to compete more evenly with other internet providers for cable-based internet, growing market share in mobile will become more important if the company is to continue growing value for shareholders.
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Motley Fool writer Andrew Mudie does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.
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