I recently went to an interesting session talking about the Nokia and Microsoft partnership at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The potential of this partnership, and the wider event itself, has created a lot of interest from people around the world.

Generally, the feeling at Barcelona is that competition is good and there is a degree of rationalisation occurring in the industry.

Telstra is recognised at the congress as being one of the great innovators, given the many world first achievements we’ve had with the Next G™ network, including the rollout of HSPA+ Dual Channel technology.  Another big topic at Barcelona was the growth of mobile internet.  All the operators are seeing tremendous demand.

Like most operators around the world, we’re now seeing that data rates are doubling every nine to 12 months.  We’ve been working through this development and were very pleased to announce at Barcelona that we intend deploying LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology on the Next G™ network using the 1800 MHz spectrum in the CBDs of all capital cities and selected regional centres around Australia.

We think this is very exciting because it’s going to improve the customer experience. One of the things we’re finding is that the great increase in data is putting enormous pressure on the network. As a result we’re looking at ways to carry those packets more efficiently, which results in a better end user experience.

The other key thing is that the experience of the smartphone user is becoming more and more important. So it’s both how quickly that file comes down and also the latency of getting to that website, or getting to that app. All the trials we’ve done on LTE have seen significant improvement in both latency and the efficiency of carrying data. Speed is one aspect, but overall, it’s about improving the customer experience.

All in all there is a very real sense of optimism in the industry, which is very different to last year. Operators are now seeing great opportunity and it is largely being driven by the growing demand for data.

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