Telstra has revealed plans to create Australia’s first national internet of things network, as well as an upgrade to its optical networks and trials of new 5G technology.
The announcement comes as part of the telco’s “Network of the Future” program announced overnight at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona.
Telstra partnered with long-time collaborator Ericsson to deploy network software, which will enable Cat-M1 LTE networks using Ericsson’s Massive IoT software, to its radio and core networks.
Cat-M1 technology allows for low-power, wide-area technologies to work on a licensed spectrum. It is suitable for devices using mobility, voice support and moderate bitrates in the order of hundreds of kbps, like vehicle telematics, asset tracking, consumer and healthcare wearables and smart electricity metering.
Telstra has already begun trialling the technology in Melbourne and Tasmania in preparation for Cat-M1 to make its way to Australia in the second half of 2017, supported on the telco’s 4G network.
“Telstra’s 4GX network is one of the most advanced and largest 4G networks in the world,” said Mike Wright, Telstra’s group managing director of networks.
“Building Cat-M1 services for IoT using the scale and standardisation of the 3GPP roadmap allows the rapid rollout of Cat-M1 through a new network software activation and provides the ideal platform for a proliferation of IoT devices and applications.”
Over the next three years, Ericsson will also expand Telstra’s long haul, metro and regional optical networks with packet-optical solutions from Ciena.
David Robertson, Telstra’s director of transport and routing engineering, said the optical program would underpin the telco’s transformation plans and delivery on expected traffic growth from IoT and 5G, as well as cloud and media services.
“Work has commenced to transform our network to increase its value to businesses as they shift IT into the cloud, improve productivity and efficiency with mobility, store and process business critical data in the cloud, and apply machine learning to solve complex challenges, while ensuring regional Australians enjoy the same experience as those in our major cities,” he said.
Telstra has also partnered with Qualcomm, as well as Ericsson, to trial 5G New Radio technology. The trial is aimed at highlighting the new technologies that use wide bandwidths available at higher-frequency bands to increase network capacity and accelerate the commercialisation of the global 3GPP 5G standard.
Telstra’s Wright said the development was a big step forward in preparing for 5G.
“In addition to the ongoing growth in data consumption, customers are starting to use applications that use more data (eg virtual reality) and also require lower latency; for example, critical industrial and medical applications such as remote surgery,” he said.
“This collaboration between Telstra, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies will help ensure 5G is ready for the Australian environment, including making sure it is able to be scaled up for our vast distance and sparse population, as well as ensuring our customers will be among the first in the world to enjoy the benefits of 5G.”
Telstra is expected to make further announcements this week at MWC.