Review: Telstra 4GX, a thirst for data that won’t quit

As our thirst for mobile increases, our mobile networks need to continue to increase in capacity and bandwidth to support that growth. To address this, Telstra are expanding their...

4GX2

As our thirst for mobile increases, our mobile networks need to continue to increase in capacity and bandwidth to support that growth. To address this, Telstra are expanding their 4G service with the next generation 4GX that promises some substantial speed improvements. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been testing 4GX in the regional area of Albury Wodonga, so it’s time for the results.

SpeedTest on 4GX

Testing the speed of the 4G Network was done on the Surface 3. With the sim card inside, all you need to do is insert the USB modem into the USB port, wait for the drivers to install and connect to the newly created WiFi network.

After the setup, it was straight off to Speedtest.net to see how much speed the X from the 4GX gave us. After running multiple tests, I found an average, representative result. On 4GX, I was able to achieve 32.22Mbps down and a massive 26.66Mbps up.

Telstra 4GX result

SpeedTest on ADSL2+ WiFi

As a comparison, we also ran a speed test using the standard ADSL2 connection here, also on WiFi. The results are a decent 17Mbps down (out of a theoretical 24Mbps), but a lousy 0.86Mbps up. This means the my home internet is just 54% the speed of 4GX. The upload is just 3.22% of the upload available on 4GX.

ADSL2 result

Why’s this important?

Obviously your speed will vary based on you location, when compared to 4G, 4GX will certainly be faster and compared to ADSL2, it’s also probably faster, considerably as we seen in the speed tests.

This extra speed means extra capabilities, doing things you couldn’t otherwise on a slower connection. One such thing is streaming  high quality video without buffering. In 2015, we’re not talking about HD, that’s a given, we want the full resolution of 4K.

Even with an ADSL2 connection, the video buffered, multiple times. Switching to the 4GX connection and playing the 2160p video worked flawlessly, with the video buffer racing well ahead of the playwear and importantly, never buffered.

4K quality

The other side of the connection of course is the upload. The extra speed afforded by the upstream would be great to upload videos with, turning hours, into minutes.

Of course all this extra speed means you can burn through so much more data than otherwise possible with just a 4G network. Recently Telstra moved to a different scheme for data packs, an auto-renew system that costs $10 per GB. Given we could churn through many GB per hour on 4GX, you need to tread very carefully.

If only you could connect a 4GX USB Modem to Telstra Air and draw from your home cap while getting business (or entertainment) done on the road. If you can convince your boss to foot the bill for a big data plan, then it’s all green lights to go nuts with the big speed.

4GX

Overall

I’d seen the announcement of Telstra’s 4GX rolling out to an increasing number of locations, but using it is a different story. Having mobile speeds this fast is seriously great, it’d be a lot greater if you could use them without having the data devil hovering over your shoulder.

Downloads and uploads work great, but it’s really not designed for live communications like Skype. Technically it will work, any connection would, but the rate of data isn’t consistent enough for real-time and that’s just a symptom of the technology. A hard wired connection will always be better.

If you’re not a fan of the relatively large USB modem hanging out the side of your laptop, you can get 4GX in selected phones. If you get a chance, look for this as a must-have feature in your next handset. We’re still some time away from 5G networks in Australia, but with 4GX, chances are, you’ll have all the speed you need.

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Telstra