As Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, prepares to shutter its 2G network for good, with the company revealing that its 3G network could meet the same fate as early as 2020.
The company will be shutting down its 2G network on 1 December, in a move that will is likely to see customers in some areas forced to obtain 3G handsets to continue making use of their services.
Likewise, customers may have to upgrade again in, or around, 2020, with the company’s COO, Brendan Riley, revealing long-term plans to transition away from its 3G network within just a handful of years.
“You can expect after 2020 that that we would need to retire the 3G network and many of the vertical platforms that we’ve created over a long period of time as the world of networks becomes more software-defined,” Riley said during Telstra’s Investor Day on 17 November.
Citing increasing wireless network data demands arising from burgeoning online video, the Internet of Things (IoT), and online transactions such as internet banking, Riley suggested that the company’s networks will require substantial improvement to handle rapidly growing demand.
“We’re looking at 5X traffic growth in the next five years in terms of data on our networks," Riley added.
"And when you look at the capacity that’s going to be required by 2020 on our networks, we need to build 80 per cent of that between now and 2020.
“What we’re going to be committing to is to increase our traffic growth five-fold while holding our underlying cost flat in networks.
"And we’re going to do that with new architectures, and we’re going to be leveraging the partnerships and all of the experience that we have.
“As 4G is more optimised for data, 5G is going to be far more optimised for video. So network 2020 is a substantial and significant transformation of the underlying Telstra network infrastructure environment."
Riley’s comments come as Telstra reveals how it intends to spend up to half of a proposed $3 billion systems and operations investment boost into building out its “networks for the future”.
The company told shareholders that the investment will include more than $1.5 billion in building out networks, $1 billion in accelerating the digitisation of the business, and up to $500 million on other customer experience-related improvements.
“We will leverage new technology to deliver higher availability and performance, and unlock new sources of differentiation for our customers," Telstra CEO, Andrew Penn, said.
The move follows a series of network troubles suffered by Telstra earlier in the year, with the company experiencing a nation-wide mobile network outage in February that wiped out mobile voice and data services across the country.