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'Beyond 4G': Telstra achieves 1Gbps speeds on mobile network

It might be only in the trial stages, but Telstra has pushed its mobile network to the next frontier and past the perceived speed 'barriers' that previously defined 4G.

Telstra

Telstra says it has pushed "beyond the 4G barrier" after achieving 1Gbps speeds during a successful end-to-end trial on its commercial mobile network.

The telco achieved the impressive speeds by aggregating different spectrum bands on its network. Telstra used 100Mhz of spectrum across five different 4G channels to carry the mobile signal, a technology known as carrier aggregation.

Carrier aggregation is used by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to deliver next-gen 4G services in Australia. Telstra officially switched on carrier aggregation in 2014, calling the new technology 4GX and heralding it as the future of super-fast mobile communication in Australia.

Since then, Telstra has shown off a number of mobile devices across different 'categories,' capable of reaching higher and higher theoretical download speeds -- essentially, the higher the category, the faster the download. After showcasing early Category 6 LTE devices capable of top download speeds of 300Mbps, Telstra began trials of its Cat 9 LTE in May last year, using a prototype device to reach "world-first" speeds of 400Mbps. In September, Telstra pushed into the heady realm of 600Mbps speeds with a Cat 11 mobile hotspot.

Still baffled by carrier aggregation? Get the low-down on the next generation of 4G.

Now, the telco says it is redefining LTE speeds by achieving a "world first testing 1Gbps speed capability on a commercial mobile network." In practice, the telco reached speeds of 950Mbps on its own dedicated speed test application, and 843Mbps over the popular online speed testing site, speedtest.net.

Calling back to a debate around speeds in the early days of 4G, Telstra's group managing director of networks, Mike Wright, said it was "widely accepted" that 4G should be defined as peak speeds in the range of 1Gbps.

"In the end the global consensus was that the term 4G could be applied to any LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology regardless of peak speed capability," Wright wrote in a blog post today. "But with LTE now reaching 1Gbps speeds in reality, LTE technology could be argued to be finally moving beyond the 4G barrier.

"Our end to end tests have been achieving amazing download speeds of over 950Mbps using a specialised speed test application, so perhaps we can now say LTE has delivered on that original vision of 4G and we can now justifiably look beyond the term '4G' to what comes next."

It's worth noting that 1Gbps speeds are still only in the trial stages, and the telco says there is still "some work to do" before this kind of capability is available for mobile users on the 4GX network. But Wright says the demonstration shows that Telstra is working towards bringing its customers 1Gbps in order to increase the capacity of its networks and meet growing demand for fast mobile speeds.

"The days of commercial 1Gbps services in the market are coming," he said.