Telstra revealed its 5G network roadmap at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week, which includes planned trials and enhancements to the current 4G service in order to support the new network.
The telco will invest close to $5 billion into its mobile network as a whole over the three years leading up to 30 June 2019, when the 5G network is planned to go live. The $5 billion investment began in mid-2016, and also includes 4G upgrades.
“5G will help deliver the next industrial revolution, unlocking opportunities across industries and markets and we want to ensure Australians are among the first in the world to gain access to it,” said Telstra chief operating officer Robyn Denholm.
“5G will be a critical building block in economic competitiveness for the nation, so we are planning our network rollout to give as many customers as possible access to 5G technology as soon as possible.”
Telstra also revealed that the new network will support both the sub 6GHz and mmWave spectrum, with current tests showing speeds in excess of 3 Gbps and latency of 6 milliseconds between Gold Coast and Brisbane.
Meanwhile, current 4G services will be upgraded with up to 2 Gbps as demonstrated at MWC, with the help of Ericsson’s 5G-ready Baseband.
“5G will not operate as a standalone technology, at least not for most early use cases. So the quality of the underlying 4G service and how this integrates with 5G will determine the overall mobile experience,” said Denholm.
“This will enable the rapid deployment of new 5G speeds enabled by the underlying strength of the existing network.”
As part of the rollout, Telstra plans to deploy more than 1000 small cells to enhance 4G capacity in metro areas, while 4G and 5G integration trials will be done in partnership with Ericsson, Intel and Qualcomm throughout the year.
Trials at the 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast will continue, as well as collaborations with vendor and industry partners. The global standard setting body 3GPPS will also meet on the Gold Coast this year to consider 5G commercial standards.
“This work is backed by our program to transform our network to handle five times the traffic and millions more connected things by upgrading our core network with next generation optical transport technology combined with the virtualisation of network functions and software defined networking,” said Denholm.
“Telstra has a history of innovating and adopting the next generation of wireless technology ahead of the curve. We did it successfully with 3G and 4G and now we have a clear roadmap to do it again with 5G backed by an evolved network core.”