Monday, 02 March 2015 04:29

MWC - Telstra outlines path to 5G Featured

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Telstra has used the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to announce a number of technologies that it says will make its eventual evolution to 5G mobile technology easier.

Mobile World Congress announcements are spread all over Barcelona, many of them before the conference proper starts.

Telstra and Ericsson chose the 41st floor of the prestigious Hotel Arts on the Barcelona waterfront to announce a range of initiatives to help smooth the transition to the next generation of mobile technology.

Telstra group managing director for networks Mike Wright took a small group of Australian communications journalists through the announcements, which are intended to boost the bandwidth, capacity and functionality of Telstra’s mobile coverage, while ensuring it will play a significant role in the development of 5G.

The announcements include:

  • Deploying 450 Mbps peak LTE-Advanced Cat 9 network capability in the network in selected capital city CBDs by April 2015, with compatible devices available later in 2015. Telstra says this is a world first.
  • Equipping LTE Broadcast technology across the Telstra 4G footprint by May 2015, with a full customer launch planned for later in 2015.
  • Equipping Voice over LTE (VoLTE) across the Telstra 4G footprint by April 2015, ahead of a full commercial launch later in the year.

Wright said the upgrades would allow Telstra to maintain the reliability, performance and functionality of the Telstra network.

“Our customers have an almost insatiable demand for content, and we must provide a consistent, reliable and fast mobile data service to deliver it. There is six million years’ worth of internet video created per month around the world, and predictions that 4G traffic will be more than half of the total mobile traffic globally by 2017,” said Wright.

“By using the most advanced network technologies and features Telstra aims to deliver Australia’s best mobile data experience.”

Telstra will also commence foundational 5G work with Ericsson ahead of an anticipated commercial network launch around 2020. In a collaborative effort, teams from both organisations will work together on lab and field based testing, in addition to adapting the evolving 5G industry standards for the benefit of Telstra and its customers.

“5G is rapidly moving from concept to reality. The earlier we start on the development and integration of the ecosystem into our current network operations, the better the outcome for our customers. I am excited to see the outcomes of this collaboration with Ericsson and build on our already impressive history of mobile network innovation,” said Wright.

In addition to work on 5G for the Telstra Mobile Network, there will be a specific focus on preparing the core network to ensure there is a complete end to end solution.

In collaboration with Ericsson and chipmaker Qualcomm Telstra is building on the 4GX rollout to provide the world’s first ‘20+20+20 MHz’ enabled three band carrier aggregation, capable of peak network speeds up to 450 Mbps)coverage in selected capital city CBDs by April 2015, with compatible devices to follow later in 2015.

“For our customers with compatible devices once they become available, LTE-A Cat 9 will further increase the capacity, speed and reliability of the Telstra mobile network,” said Wright.

“The success of Telstra’s 4GX service is proof of a never ending appetite for new devices using more data, with up to 30% of Telstra’s 4G traffic moving to 4GX as soon as it was switched on

“We are working with a range of device manufacturers to release LTE-A Cat 9 compatible devices, and anticipate the release of a NetGear hotspot device later this year. In addition we’re in discussions with a range of smartphone manufacturers about bringing Cat 9 handsets to Australia with the first expected to be on-market as early as the end of 2015” said Wright.

Telstra has been developing LTE Broadcast (LTE-B) technology since the world’s first stadium trial in January 2014, including completing the world’s first end to end LTE-B call using the next generation H.265 codec to transmit LTE-B onto a commercial grade device.

Wright said Telstra will play a foundational role in a user group of world leading operators, vendors and internet players to grow and align the LTE-B ecosystem. “Following very successful closed trials of the technology, most recently at the Melbourne Cup carnival, our LTE-B technology has matured to a point where full integration of LTE-B functionality with our network will be completed in May,” said Wright.

“From May we will progressively enable permanent LTE-B channels at key venues and events, initially for testing and then for customer access on later in 2015.


“Once launched, customers with compatible devices will have access to dedicated high quality content to complement their event experience, in addition to effectively managing network performance for broader use. We will also be enabling LTE-B capability across the wider 4G footprint.”

Telstra also announced it will enable VoLTE capabilities across its 4G coverage area in April 2015, initially trialling the services on the more than ten smartphones that are capable of supporting VoLTE following a software update. This will expand on the extensive testing completed in 2014 and lead towards a commercial launch later in the year.

“Following successful network trials of VoLTE and ViLTE (video over LTE) during 2014 and the implementation of SRVCC (Single Radio Voice Call Continuity), customers will soon be able to make a call using our 4G network layer and when needed, seamlessly transition from the 4G to 3G layer of the network with no interruption and retain the same level of call quality they experience now.

“Once we have introduced VoLTE across the network, we will also expand testing to quality controlled video calling (ViLTE) and also Voice over Wi-Fi,” said Wright.

Telstra’s role in the worldwide evolution of VoLTE has been recently expanded as a lead operator in the GSMA VoLTE program. “With a wide range of VoLTE capable devices already available for use on the Telstra mobile network and more coming we are aiming to launch a commercial VoLTE service later in 2015,” Wright said.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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