Telstra to launch LTE service at 1Gbps for business users

22 February 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Telstra has demonstrated a 4G network running at 1Gbps, the company announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and it plans to start rolling out the service in three cities later in 2016, with a Netgear mobile hub that will carry the operator’s branding.

The Australian operator will run the gigabit service in the central business areas of the country’s three largest cities, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“We’ll build them there first and expand later,” said Mike Wright, managing director of networks for Telstra, speaking the day before Mobile World Congress opened in Barcelona. The unit will be sold as a mobile hotspot/router that will connect up to 20 devices at once. Telstra has not yet disclosed the price.

Ericsson will carry out the network upgrade, which will aggregate three channels each 20 megahertz wide on spectrum between 700 and 2,600 megahertz.

“We are starting with the busiest parts of the network. We have testbeds up and running now, and we’re building the production version,” said Wright at MWC.

Netgear is developing the terminal for Telstra and it will carry both companies’ brands, said Andy Volard, Telstra’s director of device management. Telstra hopes to market the device to other operators, he said. He described it as “circular, like a largish [ice-hockey] puck”.

Meanwhile Telstra is planning to launch video over LTE in the second half of 2016, again working with Ericsson. The operator sees the move as a way of completing with over-the-top providers such as Skype. However the service will be limited to users within Australia until Telstra interconnects with other ViLTE providers inside and outside the country. “The next step is IP interconnection. There is a range of options we have to work through,” said Wright.

Ericsson has been the main provider of network technology to Telstra since the earliest days. Telstra will be seconding a number of its engineers to work with the vendor’s labs in Sweden as 5G technology is developed and defined. The aim is to ensure 5G is specified to work over Australia’s long distances and low density, said Wright. “They will be some of our best and brightest engineers.”