Telstra and Ericsson to enhance MCG mobile coverage with 5G

It comes just in time for this weekend's AFL grand final taking place at the MCG.

Mobile coverage at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is getting another round of upgrades. Telstra has announced, in partnership with Ericsson, that it will be installing 5G at the stadium ahead of this weekend's Australian Football League (AFL) grand final.

"On match day last year, we saw a massive 3.8 terabytes of data sent over Telstra's mobile network at the MCG, which is equivalent to 1,200 hours of HD video content. We'll see this lift again next weekend with more data and more capability at the G," said Telstra Networks and IT group executive Nikos Katinakis.

He added the upgrade will also enhance the network to further support its 4G customers.

According to Telstra, the upgrade is part of a wider initiative that has been going on since 2015 where the telco has been upgrading both its 3G and 4G networks at the MCG.

However, this initial rollout is only the first stage of installation, the company said, noting Telstra and Ericsson will continue to evaluate 4G and 5G coverage at the MCG following the weekend event.

See also: 5G outlook: What's to come in 2019 and beyond (TechRepublic)

Telstra has rolled out 5G in 10 cities across Australia, with plans to increase its 5G coverage almost five-fold and reach at least 35 Australian cities over the next 12 months.

The goal comes as Telstra CEO Andy Penn recently labelled 5G as a "strong growth engine" for the company's average per user (ARPU).

"ARPUs tend to increase, particularly in the early stages of a rollout," Penn said during the company's annual retail shareholder day earlier this month. "So we see that happening in 5G as well as we look forward over the next couple of years."

In July, Telstra and Ericsson made the first end-to-end 5G standalone call in the southern hemisphere at Telstra's 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast. The test was conducted with 3.6GHz spectrum, Ericsson Baseband equipment, and a 5G standalone device with a MediaTek chip.

Ericsson ANZ head Emilio Romeo said at the time the test was a "vital step".

"Together with Telstra -- one of the world's first operators to launch 5G commercially on 5G non-standalone -- we continue to lead and drive innovation to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of telecommunications technology," Romeo said. 

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