Telstra to inaugurate LTE trials in May 2010

18 Mar 2010

Australia’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Telstra, has revealed that it will trial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in May 2010, The Australian reports. It is understood that the pilot will look to test the commercial viability of upgrading Telstra’s existing 3G/3.5G network, known as the NextG network. Swedish vendor Ericsson, which already works with Telstra on the cellco’s existing infrastructure, will provide the technology for the trials, with Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) of Finland and China’s Huawei also participating in the project. LTE services will be tested operating on the 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands approved by the communications regulator, but Telstra has suggested that it may consider offering 4G services commercially by using the 700MHz band, which is expected to be freed up as part of the digital dividend. Michael Rocca, Telstra’s acting chief operating officer, said that the decision was in part motivated by a need to both prepare for the increasing growth in demand for mobile broadband services, while keeping operating costs low, noting: ‘So what we’re saying now is the road map moving towards another three to five years we know the efficiencies that LTE will give us. Otherwise you’re going to have to keep on building these base stations and your unit costs goes up given the requirements we can see coming up for data in the network.’

Telstra has continued to upgrade its NextG network nonetheless, and as reported by CommsUpdate, last month the operator revealed that it had doubled the theoretical maximum downlink speed of its HSPA+ network from 21Mbps to 42Mbps as the result of a software upgrade using dual carrier technology in partnership with Ericsson.