Inside Telstra's super-fast 4G rollout

Inside Telstra's super-fast 4G rollout

Summary: Telstra's 4G upgrades are occurring in the unlikeliest of places. Even retirement homes.

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TOPICS: Telcos, 4G, Telstra
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  • (Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet)

    Super-fast 4G broadband is not a term that would be used all that often in a retirement home, but it is at the Rose Bay Towers retirement apartment block in Sydney this week, as Telstra and Ericsson set about switching on their 4G network there.

    Telstra has set its sights on upgrading 1,000 base stations by the end of June to 4G, bringing the total number of sites with 4G connectivity to 2,000 — covering over 66 percent of the Australian population.

    The company already has over 2.1 million 4G devices on its network across Australia.

    While on the surface, it appears that the company is meeting its upgrade targets at a blistering speed — having only launched the network at the end of 2011 — months and years of work and planning goes into every single site upgrade.

    As he took ZDNet up to the rooftop of the Rose Bay Towers retirement village, Geoff Piper, Telstra's project manager for New South Wales, said that the lead time for the 4G upgrades can run from six months to two years in length.

    "On average, it is about six months. It depends on the site. Some you can do quite quickly if everything lines up, but in general, it is about a six-month process. If it is a new site, [it is] 18 months to two years."

    In addition to getting all the antennas, radio, and network equipment for the upgrade, and ensuring that the site is ready and the crews available to do the upgrade, Telstra also needs to seek approval from the local council, which is often an arduous task in and of itself.

    "We do a lot more community consultation nowadays than we used to," he said. "And that chews up a fair bit of time itself."

  • (Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet)

    The site is connected back to the rest of Telstra's network through fibre backhaul. However, Vodafone has microwave backhaul infrastructure installed at this location.

    In addition to dealing with local councils and the community, the telco giant also needs to renegotiate with property owners to add the 4G network equipment to the building. Piper said the agreements need to cover all equipment that would be required for the upgrade, not just the antenna.

    The owner and manager of the Rose Bay retirement home has had an agreement with Telstra, as well as Optus and Vodafone, for several years.

Topics: Telcos, 4G, Telstra

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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