Telstra is boosting the bandwidth, capacity and functionality of its 4GX coverage with a series of technology alliances including Ericsson, Qualcomm and Netgear.
The company will deploy a 450Mbps peak LTE-Advanced Cat 9 network capability in selected capital city CBDs by April 2015, with compatible devices available later in 2015.
It will also equipping LTE Broadcast technology across the Telstra 4G footprint by May 2015, ahead of commercial trials.
This will be followed by a full customer launch, planned for later in 2015.
Further, it will deploy Voice over LTE (VoLTE) across the Telstra 4G footprint by April 2015, ahead of a full commercial launch later in the year.
With the LTE Broadcast capability in place Telstra will be progressively enabling permanent LTE Broadcast channels at key venues and major events, initially for testing and then for customer access on compatible devices during 2015.
The LTE Broadcast trials run by Telstra and Ericsson in Australia have shown that three or four channels of video can be efficiently streamed along with complementary data channels.
This traffic used as little as 10 per cent of the 20 MHz carrier to cover all users.
The adoption of High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) compression further improves network efficiency and potential picture quality.
Telstra Group managing director networks, Mike Wright, said the upgrades would allow Telstra to maintain the reliability, performance and functionality of the network Australians have come to rely on and demand more from.
“Our customers have an almost insatiable demand for content, and we must provide a consistent, reliable and fast mobile data service to deliver it," he said.
"There is six million years’ worth of internet video created per month around the world, and predictions that 4G traffic will be more than half of the total mobile traffic globally by 2017.
“By using the most advanced network technologies and features Telstra aims to deliver Australia’s best mobile data experience.”
Telstra will commence foundational 5G work with Ericsson ahead of an anticipated commercial network launch around 2020.
In a collaborative effort, teams from both organisations will work together on lab and field based testing, in addition to adapting the evolving 5G industry standards for the benefit of Telstra and its customers.
Wright said 5G world was rapidly moving from concept to reality.
"The earlier we start on the development and integration of the ecosystem into our current network operations, the better the outcome for our customers," he said.
"I am excited to see the outcomes of this collaboration with Ericsson and build on our already impressive history of mobile network innovation."
In addition to work on 5G for the Telstra Mobile Network, there will be a specific focus on preparing the core network to ensure there is a complete end to end solution.
In collaboration with Ericsson, and Qualcomm, Telstra is building on the 4GX rollout to provide the world’s first 20+20+20 MHz enabled three band Carrier Aggregation (capable of peak network speeds up to 450Mbps) coverage in selected capital city CBDs by April 2015, with compatible devices to follow later in 2015.
For customers with compatible devices, once they become available, LTE-A Cat 9 will increase the capacity, speed and reliability of the Telstra Mobile Network in selected areas.
Wright said the success of Telstra’s 4GX service was proof of a never ending appetite for new devices using more data, with up to 30 percent of Telstra’s 4G traffic moving to 4GX as soon as it was switched on.
“We are working with a range of device manufacturers to release LTE-A Cat 9 compatible devices, and anticipate the release of a Netgear hotspot device later this year," he said.
"In addition we’re in discussions with a range of smartphone manufacturers about bringing Cat 9 handsets to Australia with the first expected to be onmarket as early as the end of 2015.
Telstra has also been leading the development of LTE Broadcast (LTE-B) technology, since the world’s first stadium trial in January 2014, including completing an end-to-end LTE-B call using the next generation H.265 codec to transmit LTE-B onto a commercial grade device.
The company will play a major role in a user group of world leading operators, vendors and internet players to grow and align the LTE-B ecosystem.
Wright said the company had completed successful closed trials of the technology, most recently at the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
"Our LTE-B technology has matured to a point where it’s time to share the benefits with our customers, with full integration of LTE-B functionality to be completed in May,” he said.
“From May we will be progressively enabling permanent LTE-B channels at key venues and major events, initially for testing and then for customer access on compatible devices later in 2015.
Once launched, customers with compatible devices will have access to dedicated high quality content to complement the "event experience".
According to a company statement, Telstra already has a range of device models capable of supporting LTE-B.
This range is set to grow further during 2015.
As these devices are tested for compatibility, simple software downloads will enable customers to experience LTE-B where available.
It will also will enable VoLTE capabilities across its 4G coverage area in April 2015, initially trialling the services on the more than 10 smartphones on its network that are capable of supporting VoLTE, following a software update.
This will expand on the extensive testing completed in 2014 and lead towards a commercial launch later in the year.
Following successful network trials of VoLTE and ViLTE during 2014 and the implementation of Single Radio Voice Call Continuity, customers will soon be able to make a call using the 4G network layer and when needed, seamlessly transition from the 4G to 3G layer of the network with no interruption.
Once VoLTE is introduced across the network, the company will also expand testing to quality controlled video calling (ViLTE) and also VoWiFi.
Telstra will launch a commercial VoLTE service later in 2015.