4G Mobile Broadband in Australia

4GMobileBroadbandAustralia has two 4G mobile broadband providers, Vivid Wireless and Telstra. Optus is due to launch their service (beyond the trials they are running at the moment in NSW) in 2013.

Vivid Wireless launched 4G mobile broadband several years ago. I remember at the time all of the carriers complaining that it wouldn’t lead to any better performance and it wasn’t what the market was after. Vivid Wireless is a Channel 7 initiative. Their goal was to link the streaming of news and television shows directly to your desktop or mobile device.

This week Optus confirmed the purchase of Vivid Wireless. This move has provided Optus with a long foot in the door when it comes to 4G coverage. In fact Optus can now state that it has a much broader offer than Telstra who launched their 4G service in 2011 and now has over 100,000 customers using it.

Optus hasn’t provided any details when it comes to Vivid Wireless customers, but they wouldn’t be any near the 100,000 mark.

Optus however isn’t simply going to sit on the Vivid Wireless acquisition. Its own trials with 4G in NSW are on schedule and the performance results are in line with expectations.

Optus’ current trials with 4G are in greater Newcastle, Port Stephens, Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie. Once the trials are complete Optus aims to launch its services in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth first. Phase two will include Brisbane and Adelaide. Phase one is due to begin in early 2013.

Vodafone has as yet not provided any details regarding its own 4G network. Over the past 18 months it has been busy playing catch up with its own 3G network. Infrastructure upgrades have been the order of the day following a catastrophic period where it simply bled customers due to poor network coverage and performance.

One thing we do know about Vodafone however, is that as part of its network upgrades, it has teamed up with Optus in certain regions within Australia. This partnership will almost certainly see it piggy backing on the Optus 4G network once it is launched.

The National Broadband Network will also be offering a mobile broadband service that will enable regional areas where fibre is not economic to also access acceptable internet speeds. Whether 4G will form part of this offer is yet to be seen.

I have experienced Telstra’s 4G mobile broadband service and can say it is quite impressive. Typical download speeds are 2Mbps to 40Mbps and typical upload speeds are 1Mbps to 10Mbps.

However one thing to remember with any mobile broadband service is that with growing demand we will begin to experience congestion and then performance will struggle to meet these growing expectations of speed.