Fastest mobile 4G network speed record ‘broken’

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Associated Press

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Telecoms firm Elisa wants to roll out a premium one-gigabit mobile network within three years

A new record has been set for the world’s fastest 4G mobile internet speed, according to a network operator.

Finnish firm Elisa says it has achieved a 1.9 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) speed on a test network, claiming this is the fastest on record.

The hyper-fast mobile internet service could theoretically download a Blu-ray film in 44 seconds.

But analysts are sceptical that such a feat could currently be replicated within a live, real-world network.

Elisa said it used technology provided by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to deliver a mobile network speed that edged close to the 2Gbps threshold.

By comparison, its fastest commercial network speed is 300Mbps – less than a sixth as fast.

The corporation’s chief executive, Veli-Matti Mattila, said: “We know there hasn’t been a speed this high announced by any other network.”

In February however, one university research team – not affiliated with a network provider – managed to achieve a 5G mobile speed of 1 terabit per second (Tbps), which is more than fifty times faster than Elisa’s 4G speed.

In terms of commercial applications, Mr Mattila told the BBC that Elisa is planning to roll out a premium 1Gbps network in Finland within the next “two to three years”.

Mobile virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as “high quality 4K video and beyond”, are cited by Mr Mattila as applications likely to benefit most from hyper-fast network speeds.

Reality checks

But two analysts are sceptical about the real-world relevance of the speed record.

“Deploying a network that can support 1.9Gbps doesn’t mean customers will get 1.9Gbps mobile broadband,” said Nick Wood, assistant editor at Total Telecom.

He told the BBC: “This is because that network capacity has to be shared among customers. In reality, customers are likely to experience a modest improvement in overall speed and reliability, which is great, but doesn’t make for exciting headlines the same way that 1.9 Gbps does.”

Ernest Doku, a telecoms expert at uSwitch, pointed out that only 5MB per second is required for streaming HD content on Netflix, and Elisa’s top speed “is 400 times faster than that”.

“It’ll be a long time until our infrastructure here in the UK offers anything close,” he added.

“This isn’t a stepping stone to 5G as much as it’s proof that 4G is yet to achieve its full potential here in the UK,” he said.

Mr Mattila added that Elisa’s new record shows that 4G networks can still “evolve” and deliver greater download speeds for mobile customers.

“5G technology is in the early stages, and soon we will see that tech piloted. But with 4G working at faster and faster speeds, it means we don’t need 5G coverage just yet,” he said.

“I expect we will pilot 5G within the next year, but I don’t expect the 5G deployment in the mass market until after 2020.”

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