Telstra today said it would start upgrading its Next G mobile network to 21Mbps speeds by the end of the year, with Canada-based supplier Sierra Wireless working on the first customer access device.
Michael Rocca (Credit: Telstra)
The timeframe appeared to represent something of a back-down for the telco, which had previously stated the network as a whole would support the speeds by the end of 2008.
Speaking at a briefing in Sydney, Michael Rocca, group managing
director for Telstra networks and services, said the telco was the first in the world to reach the speeds.
Rocco said that would make Telstra's network the fastest in
Australia, and possibly even the world. "That's why we run the
business on value, not on price," he said.
Telstra could not confirm
what average speeds customers could expect, with the 21Mbps speeds only being the theoretical maximum. Michael Wright,
Telstra's executive director of wireless said the figures were
not yet available.
"When we start testing we will come up with some hard figures,
but when you look at a 7.2Mbps device, a typical user is seeing
550Kbps to 3Mbps, with bursts of 6Mbps," he said.
Wright said those figures were some indication of the average
network speed once the upgrade was complete. "We intend to
multiply network speed by three. It won't be a three times
improvement, because the main benefit is for users closer to the
cell, but it will certainly be a big step up."
Rocca said that Telstra was able to increase the network
capacity through a combination of improved backhaul capacity (the
IP networks that support wireless), and an investment in the 850MHz
spectrum. Telstra's partners in the upgrade included Sierra
Wireless, Qualcomm and Ericsson.
Hugh Bradlow, Telstra's chief technology officer, said one of the company's key
technologies in Telstra's increased backhaul capacity was the
migration to blades in the company's datacentres. He also spoke
about the carrier's plans for Long Term Evolution (LTE), which would bring wireless
broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps.
Bradlow said that one of the keys to allowing LTE to progress
was the release of two parts of the RF spectrum, 2,600MHz and 700MHz,
both of which are currently occupied by analog devices. In
particular, 700MHz is utilised by analog television, which the
Federal Government is planning to switch off between 2010 and 2013.