4G and LTE: everything you need to know

Curious about 4G in Australia? TechRadar explains all

It was only in early September of 2012 that Optus officially opened its LTE network for business, despite months of trials earlier in the year.

The footprint of Optus' 4G network at launch was significantly smaller than Telstra's, only available in Sydney, Perth and Newcastle. Two weeks later, Optus added Melbourne to that list, before later expanding to Brisbane, Adelaide and the Gold Coast.

Since then, the network has continued to expand, with Optus planning to reach 90% the population by the end of 2014.

Optus shifted slightly in its LTE network technology last year with the launch of 4G Plus, which uses TD-LTE and promises theoretical speeds of over 200Mbps and practical download speeds between 25Mbps and 87Mbps, though Optus did reach 500Mbps during a trial.

While Telstra and Vodafone have FD-LTE networks, which uses two separate frequency channels for uploads and downloads, TD-LTE is a variation in that it uses the same frequency for uploads and downloads, but does each at separate times.

Optus plans to expand both its FD-LTE and TD-LTE network. It has been trialing the 2600MHz band for launch later this year, while also prepping its allotment of the 700MHz spectrum band early in 2015.

Using Optus 4G

Optus has been able to boast a big advantage over its competitors with the extra spectrum it acquired as part of Vividwireless.

The acquisition has enabled Optus to build it's 4G Plus TD-LTE network with the 2.3GHz spectrum alongside the 1800Mhz spectrum, but this does require dual-band devices.

Optus wireless modem

Many dual band phones are hitting the market now, allowing users to enjoy Optus' network better. These include the Samsung range - Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3 - as well as the HTC One M8 and LG G2.

For FD-LTE support, you of course have the the popular iPhone 5S and Sony Xperia Z2. You can check out our list of the top five Optus handsets.

Other than that, it's just a USB or wireless dongle for connecting your computing devices to the network, and the telco does have a range of dual-band hotspots available.

Thankfully more and more devices are coming with dual-band support, including smartphones, dongles and hotpots