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Telstra, Ericsson, Qualcomm unveil 1Gbps 4G network, mobile router, 5G modem

Telstra is well on the path to 5G, with the announcement of its gigabit-speed 4G network in conjunction with Qualcomm's gigabit-class mobile router and 5G modem chipset solution.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra, in partnership with Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Netgear, has announced its commercial 1Gbps-capable 4G network, with Qualcomm also unveiling its gigabit-class mobile router and 5G modem chipset solution.

Announced at the 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Telstra is now slated to conduct testing of the world's first 1Gbps network ahead of commercial launch of the network over the next few months.

"We pride ourselves on our connectivity expertise, and we continue that tradition today by completing the first commercialisation of a gigabit-class LTE network and device," said Telstra group managing director of Networks Mike Wright.

"With the world's first gigabit-class LTE network, we have substantially improved our network capacity and increased real-world LTE download speeds, while also gaining a distinct advantage over competitors as we can now offer an entirely new class of LTE service."

Telstra's network attains 1Gbps speeds when used in conjunction with the newly announced Netgear Mobile Router MR1100m, which runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem and Qualcomm's Wi-Fi solution.

The Netgear Mobile Router MR1100m is the first consumer device capable of reaching download speeds up to 1Gbps over 4G. It attains gigabit speeds via 3x carrier aggregation; 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) on two aggregated carriers; 2x2 MIMO on a third carrier; and Higher Order Modulation 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).

According to Ericsson, these technologies "pave the path to 5G".

"Many of the techniques enabled by Ericsson technology to achieve these ultra-high speeds, such as the use of multiple spectrum bands, advanced MIMO antenna technology, higher order modulation scheme, as well as Ericsson Lean Carrier, are critical to making 5G a reality," Per Narvinger, Ericsson head of Product Line RAN, said.

Qualcomm also used the 4G/5G Summit to reveal the world's first commercial 5G modem chipset solution.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem, designed to enable field trials and early deployments of 5G networks globally with download speeds of around 5Gbps, supports operation in the millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band, with 800MHz bandwidth support, and employs MIMO with adaptive beam-forming and beam-tracking technology.

The solution includes the modem, SDR051 mmWave transceivers, and PMX50 power management chip.

The modem can be used for 4G and 5G mobile broadband, along with fixed-wireless broadband devices, when paired with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with the gigabit-speed 4G modem.

"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase," said Cristiano Amon, executive vice president of Qualcomm Technologies.

"Utilising our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we're not just talking about 5G, we're truly committed to it."

Sampling for the Snapdragon X50 5G modem is slated to take place in the second half of 2017, with the first commercial products integrated with the modem expected in the first half of 2018.

Telstra flagged in February that it would be teaming up with Ericsson to launch the world's first 1Gbps commercial network alongside the first commercially available 1Gbps-capable mobile broadband device with Netgear in 2016.

Telstra's mobile network within the CBDs of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane will support 1Gbps download speeds and 150Mbps upload speeds.

Last month, Telstra, Ericsson, and Qualcomm attained download speeds of 979Mbps and upload speeds of 129Mbps during 4G network testing using carrier aggregation, 64 QAM uplink, 256 QAM downlink, and 4x4 MIMO technologies; Ericsson's Baseband 5216 hardware; Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 LTE modem test device; and Telstra's live network.

The use of 4x4 MIMO increases peak rates twofold without needing additional spectrum, with QAM also increasing the peak data rates.

Telstra and Ericsson last year also attained 1Gbps 4G mobile speeds during live commercial mobile trials by aggregating five spectrum bands.

During that 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 then announced a demonstration in partnership with Ericsson and Qualcomm of 4x4 spatial MIMO combined with 256 QAM, which it claimed had established the foundation for commercial network download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Telstra and Ericsson last month also 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.

The 20Gbps speeds were split between two mobile devices, with each one getting around 10Gbps download speeds thanks to the use of Massive Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO), which sends multiple channels of data at the same time, allowing users to have peak performances simultaneously.

In addition, a moving vehicle achieved download speeds of between 1Gbps and 6Gbps thanks to the use of beam-forming technology, in which antenna arrays steer a beam to where a user is.

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

The trial saw the companies aggregate 5x 20MHz of Optus' unique network frequency bands, combined with 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM.

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 recently announced signing on with networking giant Nokia to collaborate on developing a 5G network.

As part of the deal, Optus and Nokia have undertaken closed lab tests using Nokia's 5G radio test bed on its Airscale product, as well as narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) tests. The two companies will also conduct a trial of a 5G prototype across Optus' 3500MHz spectrum band by 2017.

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