news Australia’s largest telco Telstra this week said it had achieved live network speeds of 450Mbps on its Next G mobile broadband network, using the LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation standard across a combination of the 1800MHz and 2600Mhz spectrum bands.
These speeds, achieved in testing, are several times faster than the theoretical peak network speeds that any mobile carrier offers on 4G today, with the fastest 4G speeds commercially available typically those from Vodafone in some metropolitan areas. The carrier’s 4G network can theoretically range up close to 100Mbps, although average speeds are typically more around the 30Mbps mark, according to recent testing. Optus and Telstra have substantially greater coverage than Vodafone but offer speeds which typically average out slower.
To achieve the speeds, Telstra worked with network partner Ericsson to install equipment for two new 4G Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) channels of 20MHz bandwidth each on the 2600MHz spectrum band (40MHz FDD), aggregated with 20MHz of 4G on the 1800MHz band. The result was three simultaneous side-by-side paths for the data to travel through to the operational core network. Telstra also used an advanced prototype Cat 9 engineering device that could combine the three channels to achieve these speeds.
Mike Wright, Group Managing Director Telstra Networks said the test was designed to take the network capability for a spin and learn what happens when you lift performance to these types of speeds. “This test allows us to see how the technology works ahead of when we make a future investment in it,” Wright said.
“Conducting this type of test is a significant step in the network engineering and development process. It is essential for us to see how this type of technology works in the live network and understand what needs to be done to continue to absorb the exploding demand in mobile broadband and offer an exceptional customer experience.”
The typical speeds achievable at a commercial level will be lower in practice and while individual users may not consume all of this bandwidth, the ability to effectively triple the typical user speeds possible on Telstra’s 4G service today, means the telco can carry a huge amount of future traffic demand shared across many users.
The test also confirmed Telstra’s ability to successfully bring together three blocks of spectrum to increase the capacity and speeds delivered over the mobile network. Deployment to customers remains a few years away and it is expected the initial implementation may look slightly different to today’s test, with plans to combine one block each of 1800MHz, APT700MHz and 2600MHz spectrum.
”Telstra has the largest holding of APT700MHz and 2600MHz spectrum in Australia and we expect we will eventually be able to offer this service across much if not most of our mobile network footprint, allowing more of our customers to benefit from improved capacity and faster speeds,” said Wright
“More importantly, we are future proofing our network and planning to manage effectively the ever increasing demand for mobile data so that we continue to give our customers access to Australia’s best mobile network”.
Point 1: Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.
Point 2: The caveat: Don’t expect to be getting these theoretical peak speeds consistently in any real-world environment, don’t expect these speeds to be available any time soon, and no, this trial does not mean that fixed-line telco networks of the type represented by the National Broadband Network are irrelevant. It is clear that Australia needs both fixed and wireless networks, as, while they share some uses, they are also clearly complementary.
Point 3: Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.