Telstra launches 5G testing centre

Telstra has launched a new 5G testing centre on the Gold Coast from which it will trial new technologies with networking partner Ericsson, including the first data call made over 26GHz spectrum.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra has announced launching a 5G testing centre on the Gold Coast from which it will trial new networking technologies in partnership with Ericsson.

The centre's location was chosen due to Telstra's intention to run a trial 5G network during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year.

Australia's incumbent telco also announced completing the first trial from its testing centre on Wednesday: The world's first 5G data call using 26GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum on Telstra's production core network.

MD of Telstra Networks Mike Wright said the trial was partly a demonstration of how the mmWave band can be used for 5G deployments globally, including for use cases across the automotive, media broadcasting, and manufacturing industries.

"5G will mean we can use more and different spectrum bands in order to deliver faster speeds, more capacity, and lower latency to our customers," Wright said.

"This trial is about demonstrating that our industry is ready to utilise spectrum in the mmWave band.

"We are establishing a dedicated 5G testing centre on the Gold Coast, and this latest trial is the first in what will be a series of activities over the next 12 months to bring the best mobile technologies from around the world to Australia."

According to Wright, the next step in testing mmWave will involve working with Ericsson on examining how it can be scaled and integrated into existing mobile networks, in addition to working with industries on 5G use cases.

Telstra said it would work with Ericsson on key 5G technologies including Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO), adaptive beamforming and beam tracking, and OFDM-based waveforms in its Gold Coast centre.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn in September told ZDNet that the telecommunications provider is spending a lot of time on 5G network solutions development and testing, adding that its 5G trials with Ericsson are progressing well.

"We spend a lot of time obviously on 5G; we've got a whole program of work," Penn told ZDNet.

"We were the first to roll out serious 5G trials, and then we've got an in-market live trial on the Gold Coast next year."

Telstra had announced in February that it would be conducting 5G new radio (NR) trials across Australia during the second half of 2017 ahead of an accelerated deployment in partnership with Ericsson.

The trials will see the companies conduct interoperability testing and an over-the-air field trial using 3GPP's current 5G NR specifications, making use of mmWave spectrum as well as MIMO antenna technology along with beam forming and beam tracking.

A year ago, Ericsson and Telstra had achieved download speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps during the first live trial of 5G in Australia, with the trials conducted in a real-world outdoor environment using Ericsson's 5G radio testbed, Massive MIMO, and beam forming.

5G could enable a 48 percent incremental revenue opportunity for Australian mobile operators by 2026, with up to $13.5 billion worth of digitisation potential to tap into, Ericsson last month predicted.

Emilio Romeo, Ericsson MD for Australia and New Zealand, said there are three potential roles for operators: As pure network providers; as service enablers; and as service creators, with telcos that offer all three of these to tap into the full $13.5 billion up for grabs.

Romeo said that the operator-addressable 5G digitalisation revenues are across automotive, retail, manufacturing, financial services, public transport, agriculture, media and entertainment, healthcare, energy and utilities, and public safety.

Trials of 5G with operators across the globe have seen Ericsson attain data transfer speeds of 3.6Gbps on connected cars with SK Telecom and BMW; use its 28GHz radios, virtualised RAN (vRAN), and full 5G virtualised core for trials with AT&T; and attain speeds of over 6Gbps during trials with Verizon during the Indianapolis 500 motor race in addition to working with Verizon on 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the US.

Ericsson will also be kicking off "more elaborate field trials" in China in January next year, following research in partnership with Intel to complete the first ever 5G multi-vendor end-to-end interoperability development test across the 3.5GHz spectrum band in China in September.

Earlier this month, Ericsson also opened a 5G design site in Texas, which it said will be used to develop and test core microelectronics for radio base stations, as well as collaborating with nearby silicon-fabrication plants in Austin on designing solutions ahead of 5G commercialisation.

Ericsson earlier this year additionally collaborated with IBM Research on a "research breakthrough" in 5G network technology, saying a new silicon-based mmWave phased array integrated circuit could accelerate 5G uptake.

It then added a frequency-division duplex (FDD) radio with support for 5G and Massive MIMO to its 5G platform in September, saying it will provide a "bridge" between 4G and 5G by boosting capacity with current mobile spectrum.

The AIR 3246 radio supports both 4G LTE and 5G NR, and will speed up 5G launches for operators, Ericsson said, as well as allow them to boost 4G capacity in metropolitan networks.

As a result, it now has "the most complete 5G portfolio in the industry", Ericsson said.

Previous ACMA 5G Coverage

Telstra spending 'a lot of time on 5G': Penn

Telstra's 5G NR trials with Ericsson and Qualcomm are going well, Telstra CEO Andy Penn has said, with Telstra to host a 3GPP standards meeting in a year after a live trial of its 5G network in April.

Ericsson: 5G will improve Australian telco revenue by almost 50 percent

Up to $13.5 billion worth of 5G-driven digitalisation revenue will be up for grabs for Australian carriers by 2026, according to Ericsson.

Australia announces 5G strategy

Immediate actions under the Australian government's 5G directions paper include actively contributing to international standardisation efforts, making spectrum available, and modernising telco regulations.

Telstra and Ericsson announce 5G new radio trials

Telstra and Ericsson will use the second half of 2017 to conduct field trials of 5G NR using MIMO, mmWave, and beamforming in the hopes of accelerating commercialisation.

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