Telstra will launch LTE services in the 1800MHz band by the end of this year, and will stick with current supplier Ericsson to roll it out.
David Thodey, Telstra CEO, said Monday that the carrier will roll out LTE 1800 primarily in CBD areas as a high-capacity complement integrated with its DC-HSPA+ network “by the end of 2011”.
The rollout plan is similar to the LTE strategy of Telstra-owned Hong Kong cellco CSL, which launched LTE in November.
LTE will serve high-traffic areas and users equipped with dual-mode dongles will fall back to DC-HSPA+, with download speeds of 42 Mbps, when they’re outside the coverage area.
Sierra Wireless will provide the dongle, running LTE 1800 and DC-HSPA+ in the 850-MHz band.
Telstra’s LTE strategy also puts an emphasis on customer experience over data speeds, Thodey told journalists at the Mobile World Congress. “[W]ith LTE you have better latency, which enables things like HD video calls.”
Thodey said the rollout was within Telstra’s existing capex budget for the next three years, and that LTE 1800 would be rolled out using existing base station sites.
Telstra is one of the few cellcos to commit to refarming 1800MHz spectrum for LTE. To date, only CSL and Poland’s Mobyland have deployed LTE 1800, using equipment from ZTE and Huawei Technologies, respectively.
Huawei was in the running for the Telstra rollout, as was Nokia Siemens Networks. A Telstra spokesperson said that Ericsson’s solution was “the most compatible” with its existing network.