We noted earlier this week that Optus will be switching on its first 4G LTE services in Newcastle and surrounding areas this week. So it's hard to see Telstra announcing that it will enhancing 4G services in the same region as anything other than an attempt to maintain its 4G first mover advantage.
In a press release, Telstra said it will be see "ultra-fast 4G mobile coverage extending into a number of new suburbs in the coming months" in the Newcastle area. The lack of a specific date makes it look pretty much like a spoiler; Telstra says effective coverage in the Hunter will be doubled. Claims in the area deserve to be treated with caution; Vodafone also singled out Newcastle as a site for enhanced coverage last year, but testing by Lifehacker found no noticeable improvement.
While the question of whether LTE is "proper" 4G is a perennial source of discussion round these parts, it seems clear that we're keen to take it up whatever the label. Research firm Telsyte predicts that there will be 7 million 4G connections in Australia by 2016, which will be 19 per cent of the market. Telsyte analyst Alvin Lee predicts that there will be half-a-dozen LTE devices available locally by the end of the financial year, though most will be mobile broadband rather than phones.