Telstra's 3G schedule pushed Ericsson

Networking vendor Ericsson was forced to bring in international talent to meet Telstra's gruelling 10-month schedule for construction of its "Next G" third-generation (3G) mobile network. The AU$1 billion network was launched last Friday in Sydney, with Telstra claiming coverage of 98 percent of Australians, with average speeds of 550Kbps to 1.

Networking vendor Ericsson was forced to bring in international talent to meet Telstra's gruelling 10-month schedule for construction of its "Next G" third-generation (3G) mobile network.

The AU$1 billion network was launched last Friday in Sydney, with Telstra claiming coverage of 98 percent of Australians, with average speeds of 550Kbps to 1.5Mbps, peaking at 3.6Mbps.

"I can certainly tell you that there hasn't been a project that we have been involved in ever in Ericsson that has been this demanding and this fast," Ericsson's global president and chief executive, Carl-Henric Svanberg, told reporters and analysts at the launch.

Speaking with ZDNet Australia later that day, Svanberg said the critical challenge faced during the rollout had been getting the right human resources.

"This today is a very advanced technology, which means you cannot just take anybody off the street to work with it," he said. "You really need skilled people."

Svanberg said Ericsson "basically vacuum-cleaned the whole of Australia", to find technicians with the right skills.

"And of course at critical moments we've had to fly in some resources also, when there haven't been people to find," he said.

In the most critical weeks of the rollout, Ericsson launched a new base station every 25 minutes, working 24 hours and seven days a week, according to Svanberg.

That schedule brought a need to tightly control equipment deployment, among other things.

"To keep the speed up, you can only afford to do so many visits to a site," said Svanberg, adding there was not enough time, for example, for technicians to return to headquarters for forgotten tools. "You screw up the schedule," he said.

With the Next G network completed, some of Ericsson's staff will be redeployed to other projects, including another Telstra 3G network in New Zealand.