Tagged With 4g

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A smartphone without a big whack of mobile data is like a sports car without petrol in the tank. Almost everything we do with our phones requires an internet connection, so there is no point cheaping out on a plan with puny data inclusions nowadays.

The good news is that data keeps getting cheaper. The rise in popularity (and sheer volume) of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) has put crushing pressure on the price we pay for each gigabyte, and if you're not regularly checking your options and switching then there is a good chance you are missing out. Here are the best deals.

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Video: Now this is the ultimate network reliability test. Vodafone rigged a $300,000-plus BMW M6 race car with three Samsung Galaxy S7 phones, blacked out the windscreen, and set up three Samsung tablets in front of the steering wheel to stream real-time video from the phones' cameras over its 4G network.

Then the team put racing legend and V8 Supercar champion Mark Skaife behind the steering wheel, stuck Vodafone Australia's CEO in the passenger seat, and unleashed the car at full speed around the Calder Park Thunderdome in Victoria.

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More and more people are using Australia's 4G mobile networks every day. You've noticed, too: when you're on the train to work, your phone takes ages to load a Web page or refresh Facebook or start a music stream, despite being in full reception. The same happened with 3G. But there's a solution: this is what telcos are doing to fix it.

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If you live or work somewhere with terrible mobile reception, you've already felt the pain of trying to make or receive a call and having it drop out or go straight to voicemail. Optus has finally switched on its solution to that problem, letting you make calls over whatever high-speed Wi-Fi network you're connected to — at least if you're using one of Samsung's Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge phones.

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We don't really have in-flight wi-fi in Australia yet, although both Virgin and Qantas are working on it. It's far more common throughout Europe and the US, but a consortium of European companies is taking a different approach to the new network it's building: instead of satellites dozens of kilometres above the Earth bouncing signals from ground stations to planes and back, the European Aviation Network uses 4G LTE beamed directly upwards from mobile phone towers.

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If you're living in a house out in the sticks that doesn't have fixed-line internet, or even a house in the city with a terrible ADSL connection — like me — then you have an alternative, provided your download quota requirements aren't too high. D-Link's DWR-921 is a router that you can plug a SIM into and have instant fast 4G access, as long as you're happy to pay Telstra or Optus or Vodafone for mobile data.

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Optus owns and maintains the largest fleet of satellites across Australia, but at the same time the number-two telco can't rival its larger competitor Telstra for mobile network coverage in rural and remote parts of Australia. It makes sense, then, for Optus to boost its coverage in black spots using a series of small cells — lower-powered portable radio nodes that are much easier to install than a full mobile tower — that connect to its satellite network. And that's exactly what the company is doing.