The year 2020 is almost upon us. That year is no longer SciFi, it's only three years away. By contrast, Y2K is ancient history.
Mulhearn has spent 35 years with Telstra, much of that driving product development for data and IP products across enterprise and government. Today he works as the conduit between Telstra's data and IP products and large customers.
He explained that Telstra learned lessons from last year's series of outages and has invested heavily in its network to ensure vast numbers of devices could re-enroll swiftly in the event of a disconnection, among other rectifications and enhancements.
Speaking to the future, Mulhearn stated with the removal of copper-based technologies, and the greater widespread availability of fibre, Telstra would halve its number of exchanges. "That's fewer exchanges to catch on fire," he joked.
These exchanges will become data centres in their own right, with far greater virtualisation of equipment. Rather than racks of switches and devices and cables, the near-future exchange will be a data centre with virtualised networking, enabled by software-defined networking.
At the same time, Telstra will increase its count of mobile bridge stations, expecting that 70% of all mobile traffic will be video by 2020.
Telstra has been analysing the type of applications people use its network for, broadly classifying them across a range of bandwidth and latency requirements.
Some applications have only low bandwidth needs, but demand low latency, such as high-volume trading, while other applications have greater or fewer bandwidth needs, and greater or fewer latency requirements. Mulhearn cited autonomous vehicles as an application which would demand both low latency and high bandwidth and said Telstra has to provide the network to cater for these differing requirements.
Telstra identified the growing prevalence of Internet of Things devices as such an application it must cater for – not simply home automation but agricultural and industrial applications such as tagging sheep in large farms.
To cater for these demands, Mulhearn says Telstra will have not one, but two, and possibly three, mobile networks in the near future. While they may use the same spectrum, they will offer different mixes of geographical reach and latency and bandwidth. An IoT mobile network, for non-critical devices, for example, may offer plans with low bandwidth, but higher geographical reach and low latency.