4G and LTE: everything you need to know

In April 2013, the government auctioned off a chunk of spectrum from the 700MHz and the 2500MHz frequency ranges, have become available in 2015 after the final switch off of the Australian analogue television network which occurred in December 2013.

Wireless spectrum is pretty hard to come by, so there was plenty of interest in this, especially from telcos looking to beef up their LTE networks.

The Digital Dividend spectrum, as it is known, offers the mobile carriers a vehicle in which they can expand and evolve their current wireless offerings, and also keep up with the rapid consumption of data that having a 4G network provides.

Making sure there's enough bandwidth for customers is one of the biggest challenges faced by mobile network operators with data usage growth continuing rapidly, and this extra spectrum will go a long way to solving those problems.

There were three big winners in the Digital Dividend auction. Telstra and Optus both bought up big, while ISP TPG also had a dabble, picking up 20MHz of spectrum in the 2.5Ghz range.

Optus and Telstra will be folding the spectrum they won into their 4G networks, for better coverage and a way to help offload any congestion.

Telstra is also looking to supplement its 4G network with a national Wi-Fi network, which the telco hopes will also help offload heavy (and stationary) mobile data users off of its 4G network onto a more stable Wi-Fi connection where available.

But while 4G tech is still evolving and developing, 5G technology is already being spoken about - though what it will exactly be is still up in the air.

Telstra CTO Dr Hugh Bradlow has given a bit of insight, however, saying that work has already start on a 5G standard, which may end up being a network that brings together the many different types of networks that are available today, including 4G, the Internet of Things, emergency service networks.

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.