In America all the hype surrounds the addition of 4G to the new iPad. But it’s a different case in Australia. The new iPad will be marketed (at least on Apple’s own website) as “with 4G” but the device is not compatible with Telstra’s 4G network.
The Telstra 4G network operates on a different spectrum to the “4G” LTE networks of AT&T and Verizon in the United States, so while it can do 4G, it just can’t do Telstra 4G.
Don’t let that concern you though. The new iPad is also Dual Carrier (or Dual Channel depending on who you ask) HSPA+ compatible. The iPad 2 was not. Dual Channel is what the Telstra 4G devices such as the HTC Velocity and its 4G dongle use to fall back on when not in a 4G area.
Only Telstra is offering HSPA+ Dual Channel, so what does that mean for new iPad sales? Put simply, if you want the fastest downloads you simply have to chose Telstra. Typically HSPA+ Dual Channel will give you download speeds up to twice as fast as 3G. My own tests are proving that. In the same location, using the same Telstra MicroSIM (swapped between an iPad 2 and new iPad) where I am getting 3-4Mbps downloads on the iPad 2, I am comfortably able to get 7-8Mbps downloads on the new iPad. In fact I am regularly seeing 12Mbps downloads.
This is one of the key reasons not to believe the hype that we Aussies are being dudded by this device – 4G in America struggles to get decent speeds and it’s quite likely those speeds we are seeing on HSPA+ Dual Channel will rival those of the American 4G networks in real world terms.
HSPA+ Dual Channel is not available on the entire Telstra network though. Telstra says 60 per cent of the population has access, and while that’s not the entire network, it’s certainly leaps ahead of the 4G network it has.
So where does that leave the other carriers such as Optus and Vodafone? It leaves them in limbo. Neither have HSPA+ Dual Channel now, and are not likely to consider it as they focus their efforts on 4G LTE network plans. An Optus spokesperson told EFTM, “Optus is aggresively rolling out HSPA+ across the network [but] we do not have a confirmed date of completion”
Dual Channel doesn’t rate a mention though. Optus is well underway with its LTE (4G) trials. I saw a trial a year or more back in the Sydney suburb of Gordon where the 2100Mhz spectrum was being used. Since then Optus has done trials in both the 1800 and 700MHz bands, unfortunately though the magical 700MHz band which the new iPad can run LTE (4G) on won’t be available in Australia until 2014 after the Analogue TV switch off and Government spectrum auction.
So, for genuine speed Telstra does seem the best option for the new iPad, and our tests are consistently showing great speed results on the Dual Channel network with Telstra. A compelling argument from our largest network – just what Optus and Vodafone do to counter that will be interesting. Perhaps “amazing” deals on iPad 2 on contracts are the best way forward?