We have been hearing rumours of the incredible speeds that we could expect to receive from Long Term Evolution (LTS) 4G broadband for some time now, and finally testing from Optus has shown that the claims are not in vain. From the Optus test station in the Sydney suburb Gordon, results were reported of download speeds reaching 40Mbps, and upload speeds of 850Kbps. The fastest speeds offered by Optus at present on their 3G network are ten times less than those demonstrated within this 4G test.

The successful test from Optus is only the first phase of study to ascertain the levels of potential return from a 4G network, with further testing planned for later this year. As additional sites will be brought into the test with phase two, the new network will be tested with an increased load to see the effect on its performance, while also demonstrating how it will work with the existing 2G and 3G networks that Optus runs.

Along with continual research and successful testing from other mobile broadband networks, this Optus trial should reassure the Australian public that vastly enhanced mobile internet could be on the way sooner rather than later. Perhaps even as soon as 2012, when television broadcasters will be forced to switch to a digital, rather than an analogue, signal. The freeing up of a section of the spectrum at this time will enable mobile broadband providers to provide a 4G service to their customers and, as it seems likely that the spectrum will be auctioned by the federal government in 2012, we should expect to see significant improvements from that point on.

LTE broadband may well be available before this point in time but, due to spectrum constrictions, will not be as fast as the speeds that we can hope to see from 2012 onwards.

Faster broadband won’t only be coming in the form of mobile internet throughout the next few years though, as the $43 billion endeavour by the federal government to create an Australian national broadband network (NBN) could also see us enjoying vastly improved download speeds in the home.

Although the improvements to mobile broadband have cast some doubts as to the validity of spending so much on creating the NBN, Optus insist that the two technologies will complement each other, rather than driving business away from one another. This is because there will still be a demand to watch high definition television and movies from the home, which a mobile broadband connection will not be able to provide as successfully as a fibre optic network of cables.

As we all still love the ability to access the internet on the move as well as enjoying downloads at home though, it seems that both fast mobile and home internet connections will be around in the future of Australian broadband.