Australia’s leading mobile operator in terms of subscribers, Telstra, has unveiled plans to upgrade its 3.5G ‘NextG’ infrastructure with fourth-generation technology later this year. The telco has said that it will integrate Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the central business districts of all state capitals and selected regional centres by the end of this year. Announcing the plans at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Telstra CEO David Thodey, noted: ‘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. 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.’
Under the operator’s proposals it will utilise its existing 1800MHz spectrum in order to ‘bring 4G to areas where traffic demand is most concentrated’, while the technology will also be integrated with Telstra’s existing HSPA+ service, which uses the 850MHz spectrum range. The operator expects to have dual mode LTE/HSPA+ mobile broadband devices that operate seamlessly across the 1800MHz and 850MHz spectrum ranges on offer to its customers by the end of 2011. As well as deploying 4G, Telstra also plans to upgrade parts of its network over time with next-generation HSPA+ technologies, a move it claims will provide customers in other parts of the country with ‘4G-like services’ using Telstra’s 850MHz spectrum. Ericsson, Qualcomm and Sierra Wireless have all been named as partners for the upgrade project, while Telstra has noted that the upgrade will not require incremental investment on top of its existing plans, with the funding instead coming from its current budget for capital expenditure.