Will the new iPad work on Telstra’s 4G network?

Apple iPad LTE not available in Telstra in AustraliaIn news that has disappointed many potential iPad buyers in Australia (including yours truly), the 4G LTE modem in Apple’s “new” iPad is not compatible with Telstra’s new spanking fast LTE network.

Telstra only took the wrapping off their LTE network a few months ago after extensive testing in Sydney yielded very satisfactory results.

There may be a consolation prize though.

LTE is an important development for high speed broadband in Australia. It enables an extremely stable high speed alternative to fixed internet connections. I would consider it to be the first technology that provides a high speed “fixed wireless” service that will potentially rival high speed ADSL 2 and cable connections.

So why is Telstra’s LTE incompatible?

The new iPad is the most connected mobile device ever created with more support of different wireless bands than any other tablet or phone. It’s a true “world phone” sorry, “world tablet” that supports the following standards:

LTE (700, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz).

Unfortunately only two bands are supported by the iPad at this stage (highlighted), 700MHz and 2100MHz. Telstra currently operates it’s network at 1800MHz, so at the moment, 4G is not supported on the iPad connected to Telstra.

This must surely be disappointing to Telstra, Apple has effectively locked out LTE on the iPad and most likely the new iPhone when it arrives later this year.

So what is the “consolation prize”?

Apple has included DC-HSDPA support in the new iPad. This means that a theoretical speed of 42 mbps is possible when dual 21 mbps HSPA+ downlinks are utilised using this technology.

While it’s not as stable and fast as LTE (LTE’s theoretical limit is 72 mbps), it’s still a fantastic speed for browsing the internet while away from wifi.

I have clocked DC-HSDPA on a Telstra Sierra Wireless 4G dongle at 16 mbps, shich is nothing to sneeze at.

When will Apple support 1800 MHz?

Of course Apple has not made an announcement about what other LTE MHz bands it will support in the future. At the moment the current LTE bands globally are as follows:

The LTE standard can be used with many different frequency bands. In North America, 700/ 800 and 1700/ 1900 MHz are planned to be used; 800, 1800, 2600 MHz in Europe; 1800 and 2600 MHz in Asia; and 1800 MHz in Australia. As a result, phones from one country may not work in other countries. Users will need a multi-band capable phone for roaming internationally.
Source: LTE on wikipedia  

The iPad supports only 2 LTE bands, so the likelihood of Apple supporting so many bands even on the next iPad seems remote to me. All of this hinges of when Qualcomm (the company that provides Apple with modem chips) will bring out a chipset that works across so many bands.

Conclusion:

I don’t see LTE coming to Australia any time soon. The likelihood of Apple creating an iPad or even iPhone that supports LTE for the Australian market seems a distant fantasy to me.

Do you disagree? Add a pithy comment below.

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