• WTF is LTE, Widebandwhat, and other Aussie Telco Minutia You May or May Not Care About



    You've proably heard about LTE but never really gave a damn, but now that the iPhone has it, it suddenly matters. LTE is basically faster internets. Not only more bandwidth (i.e: a bigger pipe), but also superior latency. So even if your overall downloads don't happen faster, the time it takes to access things will be significantly faster. Once you taste LTE, you'll want it everywhere. It will probably be faster than your home ADSL. LTE can peak at around 100mbps, but real world use fluctuates wildly. All you need to know is that it's faster than 3G in a non-trivial way. Oh, and unlike with the new iPad, the iPhone supports LTE here in Australia!



    The other thing the new iPhone brings that a carrier has to support, is Wideband Audio. You know how a phone call sounds shitty because it's a phone call and that's what phone calls are like? Well the technology to make them sound awesome has been around for a while, but the iPhone hasn't supported it. I'm not going to bother explaining the concepts of codecs and wideband vs. narrowband audio (unless you want me to? I'll nerd this shit up, just ask!), but what matters is that Telstra has been supporting a thing called "HD Voice" for a while now, with phones nobody cares about. The iPhone now supports HD Voice. This means if you have a HD Voice phone (like say, an iPhone 5) and call someone with a HD Voice phone and you're both on Telstra, well, you're gonna get some crisp and clean audio into your ear holes. There's a bunch of stuff about HD Voice on Telstra's website. Oh, and Telstra is the only telco in Australia to support it.

    I'm going to break down the new iPhone 5 announcements by telco and by pros and cons, as it's easier that way. What each telco does is different and can have a big impact on whether you stick it out, or switch.

    Vodafone
    Pros:
    • they don't suck so hard these days - coverage is much better as is their bandwidth
    • they just enabled DC-HSPA+ (look for areas called 3G+ on coverage maps)
    • pricing will be low (hopefully), to compete with the fact they don't have LTE
    • visual voicemail is free


    Cons:
    • No LTE until mid 2013, which at that point, Telstra will have almost blanket metro LTE and Optus will have significantly increased their LTE footprint
    • whilst not sucking, overall speeds still below what Telstra provide (again, dependant on area/time of day)
    • no HD Voice


    Optus
    Pros:
    • has LTE
    • super cheap via an MVNO


    Cons:
    • no visual voicemail
    • very limited LTE coverage - no regional LTE either
    • no details on MVNO LTE access (e.g: TPG, Amaysim, etc.)
    • still hokey speeds vs. Telstra (again, dependant on area/time of day)
    • currently, Optus customers will need to re-contract to get LTE as LTE is restricted to special 4G plans (this may change) also not available on pre-paid
    • no HD Voice


    Telstra
    Pros:
    • largest LTE coverage with many regional areas supported
    • supports HD Voice
    • arguably superior 3G network


    Cons:
    • Telstra support Visual Voicemail - but it's $5/month (or free on some higher up plans)
    • significantly more expensive vs. Vodafone and Optus
    • still has issues with data congestion during peak times in CBD areas, so not perfect
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