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Telstra launching world's first 1Gbps commercial network, VoWiFi, ViLTE

Telstra is bringing 1Gbps speeds to its inner-city 4G networks, and will launch VoWiFi and video over LTE later in the year.

Telstra has used Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 to make several network announcements, with the telecommunications provider teaming up with Ericsson to launch the world's first 1Gbps commercial network, as well as voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) and video over LTE (ViLTE) capabilities, LTE-Broadcast developments, and the availability of the new LG G5.

According to Mike Wright, Telstra Group managing director of Networks, Telstra will launch the first commercially available 1Gbps-capable mobile broadband device with Netgear in 2016.

"The availability of the 1Gbps capability in Telstra's mobile network will allow us to continue to deliver reliable wireless broadband and media services to our customers in more places, more of the time," Wright said.

"Our technology road maps will expand to introduce new features such as 4x4 MIMO that will further increase capacity and performance in densely populated areas to provide a superior mobile experience for our customers."

Telstra's mobile network within the CBDs of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane will support 1Gbps download speeds and 150Mbps upload speeds later in 2016, thanks to a demonstration in partnership with Ericsson and Qualcomm of 4x4 spatial Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) combined with 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) in December.

The combination achieved peak downlink data speeds of up to 380Mbps, but the technology is expected to reach download speeds of 1Gbps in the future, the companies said at the time.

They also noted that 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM should be supported on smartphones from 2016.

Prior to this trial, Telstra and Ericsson also attained 1Gbps 4G mobile speeds during live commercial 4G mobile tests by aggregating five spectrum bands. During the test, 100MHz of spectrum was aggregated across the 700MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, and 2600MHz (2x 20MHz) bands, and delivered to a Cobham Aeroflex TM500 mobile device.

Telstra also confirmed the LG G5 smartphone will be compatible with long-term evolution (LTE) download speeds of up to 300Mbps across its 4GX network.

The telco will reveal pricing and availability over the next few weeks.

In addition, Telstra is officially launching VoWiFi calling by June, allowing customers with voice over LTE (VoLTE)-compatible handsets to use their home Wi-Fi network for voice and video calling.

Telstra activated its VoLTE capability in September last year, saying it would provide high-definition voice and video calling, as well as faster call set-up times and fewer dropouts, for customers with compatible handsets to use in 4G areas.

Its 4G network is forecast to reach 99 percent of the Australian population by mid-2017.

The telco at the time also demonstrated VoWiFi capabilities, to which 4G devices on a VoLTE call can transition when in range of a Wi-Fi network.

Telstra said overnight that ViLTE will follow, launching during the second half of the year.

"Early ViLTE trials within Telstra have shown the benefits of high-quality face-to-face communication, and the rollout of ViLTE will provide an enhanced video-calling experience, which we are confident our customers will enjoy," Wright said.

Telstra now has 130,000 customers with VoLTE-enabled services.

Lastly, Telstra has been working on rolling out its LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) network, bringing the network to more than 3,000 4GX sites.

The network is used for live broadcasts and real-time sports highlights inside network-absent settings such as stadiums and other event locations.

"Telstra is also looking to trial the delivery of software application updates and content prepositioning (pre-caching) on smartphone devices using the Media Optimised Network (MON) to improve the customer experience," Wright added.

Telstra and Ericsson also used MWC 2016 to announce a trial run of Telstra's 5G network during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast.

"Building on the work we do in Sweden and in the 5G standardisation process, we will be able to test and exercise a wide range of features, services and network functionality at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, Australia," Wright said.