Telstra is the world’s first mobile network to crack the 1000Mbps download speed barrier over 4G, and it’s using this little gadget from Netgear to get there.
Netgear’s Nighthawk M1 router — the company’s first to use the same name as its high-end Wi-Fi products — uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X16 LTE chipset, and achieves download speeds of up to 1000Mbps through 4-band carrier aggregation, using four of Telstra’s five separate 700MHz, 900MHz 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz frequency holdings and 4×4 MIMO antennas for multiple upload and download streams simultaneously.
Telstra originally promised to deliver 1000Mbps mobile downloads by the end of 2016, but narrowly missed its window with this late January launch. Australia’s largest mobile network uses Ericsson 4G infrastructure and announced concrete plans for gigabit 4G in October of last year, and said it would run more internal tests before opening the network up to the public.
The Nighthawk M1 is a portable 4G router, but includes a built-in Ethernet network port as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi for extremely fast local networking to smartphones or laptops, supporting up to 20 connected devices concurrently. It also has a regular USB port and USB Type-C connector for charging and media streaming. Netgear says the M1’s battery will last for up to 24 hours of continuous use.
Telstra previously announced another fastest-ever (at the time) 4GX hotspot in the Netgear AirCard 810S, which was capable of 600Mbps downloads. In reality, on a relatively busy 4G network and competing with hundreds or thousands of other devices on each network cell, real-world download speeds were between half and one third of the theoretical maximum in testing. If the same holds true of the Nighthawk M1, expect 400-500Mbps download speeds in full Telstra network coverage areas.
In the future, the M1 will also be able to act as a base station for Netgear’s wireless, battery-powered Arlo security cameras. All the Nighthawk M1’s features can be controlled by smartphone using a redesigned Netgear Mobile app, which includes security and parental controls.
Telstra has always been one of the world’s most technically advanced mobile telcos, pouring significant investment from its time as a government-owned entity and successive privatisation into building a nationwide 3G network which it called NextG. The telco refers to its high-speed 4G network as 4GX, and uses carrier aggregation across multiple bands to increase download and upload speeds. It also sits on the steering committee for 5G.
The Netgear Nighthawk M1 (MR1100) will be available through Telstra on a range of 4GX plans from next month, and will also be able to be purchased outright for $360. [Netgear]