As more and more carriers around the world start implementing 4G LTE (which stands for Long Term Evolution) news of higher and higher actual speeds achieved on the network (or throughput as it's called in telecommunications) surface.
This time it comes from Australia's NextG (that's the trademarked name for their 4G network) Telstra mobile network which announced yesterday that they achieved the speed of 90Mbps on their production network – 90Mbps or 11MB/s, the first one is megabits/second and the latter is megabytes/second. The network in which they got this amazing speed is located in the west coast of Australia in cities such as Perth and Esperance (here is a map of Telstra's network, in case you were wondering).
The maximum speed of the data transfer is not dependent of the network only. Of course you need a LTE -capable phone, but even those are of two types: CAT3 and CAT4. A CAT3 device has a peak download rate of 100Mbps (or 12,5MB/s), while on the other hand, a CAT4 has a peak download rate of up to 150Mbps (or an astonishing 18.75MB/s)
However, this figures are only on paper or in a lab environment, but the Telstra carrier states that a CAT3 phone on their network is capable of speeds from 2 Mbps up to 40 Mbps (or up to 5MB/s). CAT4 phones are not in the carriers offer just as of now, but they did mention that they will soon be offering a Wi-Fi dongle and a handset with LTE CAT4. There will be no difference between two devices from the same manufacturer and the same model and hardware specifications even if one will have a CAT3 chip and one a CAT4 chip.
A factor that will influence the download speed a client will experience is based on the amount or bandwidth of spectrum that is available in the region. The LTE network usually has spectrum in 10, 15 and 20 MHz, highest speeds being recorded on the 20 MHz's. Other obvious factors that interfere with achieving high speeds are the amount of people on the antenna and what they are doing (because if others are just in stand-by mode, that will not have such a big effect), and of course the signal level the device has at that moment. It's also a good thing to keep in mind that just because your network can download at 90Mbps, that doesn't mean that there will not be a bottleneck somewhere on the Internet (e.g. the video streaming website you are waiting your phone to load is under high demand)
It's impressive to see just how fast technology evolves. In no time, my home Internet cable connection (which is a fiber link) will be slower than the speeds I will be able to reach through the mobile carriers. I give it a couple of months.
What speeds do you get on your home/mobile network?