Next G gets a speed boost

Telstra today announced that the world's first commercial call over a 21Mbps eHSPA network was made in Australia last week.

eHSPA is an upgrade to the current HSDPA network. It stands for Evolved HSPA and also goes by the names of HSPA+ and HSPA Evolution. eHSPA networks have a theoretical maximum speed of 42Mbps.

The latest speed boost follows Telstra's announcement early this year of the planned Next G network upgrade, from current peak speeds of 7.2Mbps to an impressive 21Mbps. In late 2009, Telstra plans to boost the Next G network again, this time to 42Mbps.

Of course the key words here are "peak speeds" — shorthand for "you'll never get close to these speeds, but this is what the network is theoretically capable of". Still, these upgrades can only be a good thing.

For this latest upgrade, Sierra Wireless will produce a number of 21Mbps capable devices. As it stands, though, consumers won't be able to take advantage of top speeds straight away — most of the current Next G handsets and devices have a theoretical maximum speed of 7.2Mbps.

Users with 7.2Mbps phones and modems may see a slight increase in speeds when the network is launched commercially in early 2009, but this will only be due to the increased network capacity. We should see some 21Mbps-rated devices early next year though.

The Next G network is an impressive package overall. In addition to providing coverage in rural areas of Australia, it also covers 98 per cent of the Australian population and is one of the largest and fastest mobile networks in the world.

Unfortunately, it's owned and operated by Telstra, which means you'll pay a fortune for it. Though we tend to agree with the old saying "you get what you pay for", Telstra has for too long taken consumers for a ride by charging exorbitant prices for their services.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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