Telstra wants to be the “Network of the Future”

Alex Kidman 26 February 2017

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Telstra will substantially rebuild its network as it prepares for 5G

At Mobile World Congress 2017, Telstra has announced plans for a major overhaul of its existing optical network, with the functional build work to be undertaken by Ericsson. The three year “Network of the Future” plan will, if it goes to schedule, deliver the capacity Telstra expects it will need in order to deliver 5G network services from 2020 and beyond.

Telstra's Mike Wright stated that while in the past Telstra had simply expanded its network incrementally "this would not be sufficient" to meet future demand needs.

Telstra also announced that it will collaborate with both Ericsson and Qualcomm to trial 5G New Radio (NR) services based on the emerging 5G radio standard. The trial intends to push out multi-gigabit data rates. It’s also intended to service the upcoming heavy usage of mobile data. Telstra representatives told finder.com.au that they expect to see a 500% increase in data growth in the next few years, and the improvements in its network should be sufficient to meet that need.

At current data prices, that could be alarming, but according to Telstra's Mike Wright, the efficiencies of the new network should lower the cost of delivering mobile services to a level where it can deliver more data value to customers over time.

While much of the talk of 5G networks has focused on the Internet of Things, on the consumer side Telstra expects that the rise in the use of data-heavy media will drive consumption rates.

By 2020, it's estimated that 75% of network traffic will be streaming media, according to Ericsson Australia's Emilio Romeo. On the IoT front, Telstra expects the first devices to become commercially available towards the end of the year, with its own CAT-M1 network having already commenced trials in Tasmania and Melbourne.

It’s a busy time for Australian telcos as we gear up for the emergence of 5G, with Optus recently launching its 4.5G solution in Macquarie Park, while Vodafone has already commenced its own 5G trials.

We’re still some significant time away from actual 5G networks and handsets that you can buy, with the earliest estimates suggesting a 2020 timeframe for the actual availability of 5G services in Australia.


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