Telstra prepares to offer 2Gbps downloads over 4G network

Telco will target high-traffic areas

Telstra is planning to offer speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second (Gbps) over its 4G network in selected areas, the telco has revealed.

Telstra said that following tests conducted in partnership with Ericsson, Netgear and Qualcomm it would offer 2Gpbs speeds in high-traffic locations such as CBDs, stadiums and shopping centres.

The telco’s tests were based on a prototype commercial device and employed 100MHz of spectrum across three bands and 4x4 MIMO technology.

Telstra said it would begin offering 2Gbps later this year. Netgear’s Nighthawk Mobile Router will be available in late 2018, the telco’s group managing director for networks, Mike Wright, indicated.

Earlier this year Telstra demonstrated 2Gpbs speeds in lab tests using the Netgear modem, which is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X24 Category 20 LTE modem chipset.

The tests followed Telstra starting to offer in early 2017 1Gbps speeds on its LTE network courtesy of 4x4 MIMO and 60MHz of spectrum. Delivering Gigabit speeds over LTE required Telstra to conduct a software upgrade at its base stations, as well boost the number of mobile antennas available.

“Enhancing the performance of 4G is also an important step forward in the development of 5G,” Wright said.

Telstra and Optus are both preparing to next year launch services based on the next-generation 5G standard. Telstra earlier this year staged a demonstration at its Gold Coast 5G Innovation Centre that delivered 3.1Gbps downloads.

The roadmap of standards body 3GPP has two stages in the rollout of 5G networks. The initial phase is based on a standard called Non-Standalone 5G NR (New Radio), which envisages the use of 5G equipment on existing 4G networks. A second standard, Standalone 5G NR, will utilise 5G equipment in a network’s core.

“For most initial uses, 5G will not be a standalone technology,” Wright said.

“This means the quality of the underlying 4G service and how it integrates with 5G will go a long way to determining the overall mobile experience. As this testing shows, there is still plenty of life left in 4G as we continue to invest in faster speeds and greater capacity on 4G as part of delivering the best mobile experience for our customers.”