Telstra has unveiled an upgrade to its Next G mobile high-speed data network that it claims has delivered download speeds of up to 2.3Mbps at a range of 200km.
The Next G network, which is based on technology from the Swedish communications technology company Ericsson, was originally designed to cover distances of up to 50km from each base station. The extended distances were not originally slated to be introduced until the end of this year, and have been achieved by implementing Ericsson's Extended Reach software at selected base stations. Both parties have touted the performance as a world first.
Telstra's executive director of wireless engineering and optimisation, Mike Wright, said further optimisation work will take place through 2007, in the hope that by next year the network will live up to Telstra's undertaking that it will perform as well as or better than the CDMA network it replaces.
A small number of high mountaintop sites have already been activated, with around 40 to be switched on later this week. The upgraded sites have a maximum download speed of 14.4Mbps, but at much shorter distances.
Locations for the new service range from the mountainous areas of central New South Wales and Victoria to the North West coast of Western Australia. Wright said the sites were selected to further extend the existing reach of the Next G network, and will also benefit coastal shipping and oil rig workers, and even some aviation users. He said any device will work over the extended distance, if set up in the right signal environment with the right antenna configuration.
-Now we can not only offer a voice service over those distances, we can also offer broadband services," Wright claimed. -We'll monitor customer performance, and if we find an opportunity, we will continue to optimise the network."
He added that Telstra contributed detailed requirements and experience to the project, but declined to say whether the carrier had retained any of the intellectual property from the trial. The requirements saw Ericsson undertake extensive modifications to its software, although these were agreed when targets for the new network were set in late 2005.
Brad Howarth travelled to Barcelona as a guest of Ericsson.