Telstra introduces its next-generation LTE-Advanced 4G hotspot

Telstra has taken the covers off a new 4G mobile broadband Wi-Fi hotspot using next-generation LTE-Advanced technology, just days after Telstra partner Netgear accidentally leaked it online.

Telstra has taken the covers off a new 4G mobile broadband Wi-Fi hotspot using next-generation LTE-Advanced technology, just days after Telstra partner Netgear accidentally leaked it online.

The Netgear AirCard 782S 4G wireless hotspot, also known as the Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced. (Credit: Netgear)

The just-announced Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced supports LTE-Advanced, which binds two LTE bands for a theoretical download speed twice that of regular 4G LTE, as well as improving reception range and building penetration through a process called carrier aggregation.

According to Telstra, the new hotspot is one of the first devices in the world to be compatible with LTE-Advanced. Telstra doesn't have its mobile network entirely set up for the faster service, though; LTE-Advanced will initially run across Telstra's regular 1800MHz 4G and the 900MHz spectrum previously used for 2G, and the roll-out is expected to take place throughout 2014.

Telstra's director of devices, Andrew Volard, said that the new hotspot is future-proofed for the upcoming network changes, "It will operate in [LTE-Advanced] mode in some locations where we have a lower 4G band in place for coverage or capacity. Experience with these initial LTE-A areas on our network will help us refine this technology ahead of its widespread deployment in the coming years."

Currently, LTE-Advanced trials are taking place using towers on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Where most recent 4G LTE radios in smartphones can download at theoretical speeds up to 100Mbps, and the newest Category 4 devices can reach 150Mbps, LTE-Advanced should improve on those numbers. The outright speed that the Wi-Fi 4G Advanced can achieve isn't clear, since Telstra doesn't own a full block of the 900MHz spectrum it is using for carrier aggregation.

In 2015, Telstra will gain access to the 700MHz spectrum it bought in May; using this would allow it to reach peak LTE-Advanced download speeds of 300Mbps, three times as fast as the current speed of the NBN .

The Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced wireless hotspot in an optional charging cradle accessory. (Credit: Netgear)

The Telstra Wi-Fi 4G Advanced was leaked on manufacturer Netgear's website a week ago and was quickly spotted by keen-eyed Whirlpool users. The new Telstra device is the successor to the Sierra Wireless AirCard 760S, which has been Telstra's premium 4G Wi-Fi hotspot since early 2012. Netgear purchased Sierra Wireless' AirCard division in April, so the 782S is the first AirCard to carry the Netgear name at launch.

The new Telstra device has a 2.4-inch colour touchscreen to manage settings without a PC or web browser and includes an on-screen data meter integrated with Telstra's online billing system. A 2500mAh battery provides up to 10 hours of active usage of the Wi-Fi hotspot, which uses dual-band Wi-Fi for longer range and faster connection speeds.

The AirCard 782S also supports LTE Category 4, for speeds of up to 150Mbps download on one section of spectrum. Like other modern 4G hotspots, the new device also uses dual antennas to boost speed through a technology called MIMO.

Telstra will only be offering the new Wi-Fi 4G Advanced device on 24-month consumer and business plans. The modem will cost AU$6 per month on an AU$50 Telstra Mobile Broadband Freedom plan or Telstra Mobile Broadband Business plan, both of which have 8GB of included data.

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