Telstra Drops 4G Bombshell At MWC

  • Will be integrated with 850MHz spectrum
  • Promises of no change to quality for those not upgrading
  • Will fund from existing budget

Telstra has unveilled plans to upgrade its Next G network with 4G technology later this year, according to CEO David Thodey, who announced the deal at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Thodey said the company plans to upgrade its existing Next G network with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the central business districts of all Australian capital cities and selected regional centres by the end of 2011.

“The technology can provide many Australians with faster data speeds, high-quality video conferencing and faster response times when using mobile applications or accessing the internet,” Thodey said. “It can also help Telstra meet demand for mobile data, which is doubling every year as customers move to adopt data-hungry smartphones, mobile modems and tablets.”

The planned upgrade will use the company’s existing 1800MHz spectrum to bring 4G to areas where traffic demand is most concentrated.  It will be integrated with Telstra’s existing HSPA+ service, which uses the 850MHz spectrum range.

By the end of 2011 Telstra plans to sell dual mode LTE/HSPA+ mobile broadband devices that operate seamlessly across the 1800MHz and 850MHz spectrum ranges, giving customers the benefits of 4G where it is available. However, there will be no change in the quality or coverage footprint for customers who do not wish to upgrade their devices.

The planned upgrade will not require incremental investment to existing plans, instead being funded from Telstra’s existing budget for capital expenditure.
Thodey confirmed that, as well as deploying 4G, Telstra would also upgrade parts of its network over time with next-generation HSPA+ technologies. These upgrades will provide customers in other parts of Australia with 4G-like services using Telstra’s 850MHz spectrum.

Telstra is working with network, chipset and device vendors, in conjunction with the Global Suppliers Association and the GSM Association, to establish a global industry group to champion and guide the development of the 4G ecosystem at 1800MHz.