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Optus and Nokia partner on ANZ Stadium network

Optus is looking to boost 4G coverage and speeds inside of the notoriously network-poor ANZ Stadium in Sydney in partnership with Nokia.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor on

Optus will be undergoing trials to improve its 4G coverage in and around major sporting and music venue ANZ Stadium in partnership with Nokia, with the telecommunications carrier aiming to improve speed and connectivity for customers.

According to Nokia head of Oceania Ray Owen, one of the primary causes of poor network performance at stadiums and venues across Australia is interference due to thousands of devices competing to access the network at once.

"This results in devices increasing the power levels they use to communicate with the network, drowning each other out, increasing battery drain, and shrinking network capacity," Owen explained.

Owen said that Nokia and Optus are trialling centralised RAN to manage this at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, ahead of the State of Origin rugby league series in mid-2016.

Nokia's centralised RAN solution adds to 3G Partnership Project (3GPP) standardisation, bolstering performance for compatible devices without needing to modify existing or build out new LTE base station hardware.

"We are significantly increasing uplink capacity on the Optus 4G Plus network in and around ANZ Stadium, boosting upload speeds while improving download speeds and reducing battery drain," Owen said.

Through centralised RAN, Optus' base stations will employ uplink signals from multiple cells' base stations to cancel interference and choose between 12 receivers for the best signals. Network configuration is optimised each millisecond for every mobile device connected, consistent with the current interference environment, in turn improving LTE upload speeds.

"When there is a high concentration of people and devices on a network, balancing the network's capacity is key," Optus Networks acting managing director Dennis Wong said.

"We are keen to identify ways to deliver streaming to a mass audience without impacting the capacity of the network."

In an effort to deliver live video to those within the stadiums, Optus also flagged its intentions to continue looking into LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) solutions. The trial will be facilitated by Nokia's Liquid Applications, expanding on the companies' 2015 collaboration on Edge Video Orchestration.

Overnight at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016, Telstra similarly announced that it has been working on rolling out LTE-B, bringing the network to more than 3,000 4GX sites across the country.

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," Mike Wright, Telstra Group managing director of Networks, added.

Optus last week announced that in partnership with Chinese technology giant Huawei, it attained download speeds of 1.41Gbps during a live trial of 4.5G network technology.

The trial, completed in Optus' Gigasite in Newcastle, saw the companies aggregate 5x 20MHz of Optus' unique network frequency bands, combined with 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) technologies.

Peak download speeds of 1.23Gbps were achieved during testing over live network conditions, with the two companies adding that the method also has "theoretical maximum speeds" of 1.43Gbps.

Optus said it will continue testing and moving from 4G towards a "4.5G" mobile network before the arrival of 5G in 2020.

Optus' parent company Singtel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on joint R&D with Huawei back in 2014, but despite this, Singtel on Monday announced its foray into narrowband network experimentation with Ericsson in order to ready its network for the IoT.

Instead of using cellular networks for the IoT, narrowband low-power, long-range wide-area networks that use available, unlicensed radio spectrum could allow for extended coverage and less complex devices with higher battery life, meaning more connected devices overall.

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