Telstra teams with Ericsson to deliver Gigabit-LTE in late 2016

BARCELONA, Spain -- Australian operator Telstra will become the first carrier to commercially launch 1-Gig LTE service in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane later this year using a 1-Gig capable Netgear mobile broadband hotspot and Ericsson's (NASDAQ: ERIC) Gigabit-LTE technology.

At a press event here, Mike Wright, Telstra Group's managing director of networks, said that the operator is striving to stay at the forefront of network technology with the Gigabit-LTE launch, noting that consumers should be able to see upload speeds of 150 Mbps on compatible devices.

Ericsson announced the Gigabit-LTE version of LTE technology earlier this month. At the time, Arun Bansal, head of Ericsson's radio network unit, said that operators that want to deploy 1-Gig LTE will need at least 60 MHz of spectrum and a robust system of carrier aggregation.

According to Wright, Telstra used 4x4 MIMO on 20 MHz of spectrum in three different bands for a total of 60 MHz of spectrum. "The capability is exciting," Wright said. "This is really a breakthrough."

The end-user device is being made by Netgear, and will use a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. The modem is designed to deliver fiber-like LTE Category 6 download speeds of up to 1 Gbps. The chip also supports up to 4x20 MHz downlink Carrier Aggregation (CA) across FDD and TDD spectrum with 256-QAM and 2x20 MHz uplink carrier aggregation plus 64-QAM for uplink speeds up to 150 Mbps.

Interestingly, Telstra executives also said that, unlike typical hotspots that connect up to five or six devices, this Netgear hotspot will connect up to 20 devices. It will also act as a charging device to enable users to charge their smartphones while they are connected.

Wright also said that the operator is teaming with Ericsson on 5G and will be contributing to the 5G standards work and test specs. He added that the operator plans to have a 5G trial in its network in parts of the Gold Coast of Australia in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

But Telstra has more in mind beyond a higher speed network. Wright also said that the company has outfitted more than 3,000 cell sites with LTE broadcast. Wright hinted that he believes there is bigger capability for the technology beyond just the stadium-type broadcasts that have thus far been demonstrated by operators such as Verizon and AT&T in the U.S.

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