Telstra will not be at risk of running out of spectrum for its new Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, thanks to multi-band technology and the upcoming digital dividend, according to Ericsson.
When Telstra CEO David Thodey this morning announced the telco's intention to roll-out LTE services in metropolitan and select regional areas by the end of this year, he said the company had avoided having to wait for the release of additional spectrum by the Federal Government because it would be using its existing 1800MHz spectrum. This spectrum is currently utilised by the company's 2G customers.
Ericsson said that much of this spectrum was now free for use because approximately 70 per cent of Telstra's customers were on the company's 3G network.
"There will be sufficient 1800MHz spectrum because the 1800MHz to be used for LTE is being 'freed up' from the current 2G service, which is serving fewer and fewer customers. 2G users now make up a small minority of Telstra's user base," the company said in a statement to ZDNet Australia.
The upcoming auction of the 700MHz and 2.5GHz spectrum in 2012 would also ease the spectrum squeeze for the telco's upgrade, because the company would likely use devices that would be able to shift between the different bands.
"We can expect 'multi-band' LTE devices to be introduced in the near future providing seamless roaming, just as we can easily find 'multi-band' 3G handsets today," Ericsson said.
"At December 2010, there were about 10 LTE devices, but that number will grow 10 times to 100 by Dec 2011. Also, the GSM Association — in conjunction with Ericsson and Telstra — is fostering the 1800MHz ecosystem. Lessons learned from past is that Telstra was the first to launch 850MHz 3G and there were concerns about handsets, ecosystem, etc initially, but none of those have turned out to be a problem and 850MHz became popularised around the world."
The availability of spectrum will determine the average download speeds Telstra can offer its consumers. Telstra has so far not released any details of the speeds its new network will offer; however, in a test of 4G technology with Ericsson between Sydney and Melbourne in November 2010, the company achieved an average download speed of 80Mbps.
A recent test of vividwireless' time division LTE technology in the Sydney CBD area achieved average speeds of around 97Mbps; however, the company estimated that the average consumer would only be able to get between 40 and 70Mbps download speeds.