Australians are getting their first taste of LTE (long-term evolution) mobile network speed. Telecommunications provider Telstra launched its USB 4G mobile broadband modem today with the promise of coverage in capital city CBDs and 30 regional and metropolitan centers with download speeds ranging from 2 Mbps to 40 Mbps and upload speeds of 1 Mbps to 10 Mbps.

Telstra flipped the switch on its first LTE base stations in May and began piloting services for business customers last month.

As well as significantly increasing speed compared to currently available networks, the company says its LTE service will provide an added boost for real-time applications like video conferencing and internet gaming by reducing network latency.

The LTE coverage is currently limited to a radius of 5 km (3.1 miles) from the center of capital cities and 3 km (1.9 miles) in regional areas where the network is available.

There are plans to add 50 more locations to the 4G coverage list by the end of 2011 and Telstra says it's working with manufacturers to bring 4G-powered smartphones online in 2012.

The 4G USB modem runs dual mode 4G/3G HSPA technology so it can switch to 3G networks when the faster option isn't available.

The modem is being offered on 24 four month contracts starting at around AUD39 per month with 4GB included data. Outright purchase of the modem costs $299. More pricing and coverage information can be found at the Telstra site.