Computerworld had the opportunity to organise some quick speed testing on Telecom’s new XT WCDMA mobile network, and the results don’t disappoint. On paper, the XT network offers 14.4Mbit/s downloads and 5.76Mbit/s uploads, according to Rebecca Earl, Telecom’s sponsorship and mobile product manager. She says that average speeds will be 3Mbit/s downloads and 1Mbit/s uploads. The testing bears out Earl’s statements: using www.speedtest.net and connecting to four different servers in New Zealand, Computerworld saw speeds well over 3Mbit/s for downloads during daytime, hitting over 6Mbit/s at night.
Uploads didn’t quite make the 1Mbit/s mark however, and ping times reported by Speedtest look anomalously high. Both Vodafone and Telecom's existing 3G networks max out at 2.5 to 3Mbit/s in Computerworld tests, so XT has the lead in the performance stakes for now. It is thought some Gen-i customers and trialliest are currently using the network, which will officially launch on May 13. For the testing, a Sierra Wireless 885 USB modem was used. This device is understood to be the modem that Telecom’s XT network will launch with on May 13, and it supports 7.2Mbit/s downloads and 2Mbit/s uploads, and can be upgraded to 5.76Mbit/s on the uplink. Telstra in Australia is already selling the modem for its 850MHz WCDMA NextG network, and it retails for A$299 there.
The Sierra 885 USB modem supports 800 and 850MHz WCDMA as well as 2100MHz, but not the 900MHz band that Vodafone is deploying outside the main population centres. Presently, it’s not known if Telecom has managed to source a rare, 14.4Mbit/s HSDPA device, but it is likely the telco will skip that speed step as according to Earl, the network will be upgraded to 21Mbit/s HSPA+ later this year. HSPA+ looks set to be a common upgrade with operators around the world, so devices for that standard should be more plentiful. Telecom hasn’t yet revealed the pricing or plans for XT, or how much the devices will cost. XT will officially launch on May 13 this year.