We’re evolving how we think about innovation
Telstra News |

We’re evolving how we think about innovation

By Kim Krogh Andersen October 9, 2020

This year has been one of the biggest in technology and digitisation adoption for Australians and businesses, Telstra included. In a period of six months, we have seen the global response to COVID-19 accelerating change that otherwise would have taken years. Our response to these challenges, and both the risks and opportunities they bring, has driven a change in how we approach innovation.

While we have always been at the forefront of telecommunications innovation in Australia, we are seeing an increased need for a coordinated response from network operators, wider industry, academia, government and other technology partners to truly deliver the best products and services that Australians want.

We are investing heavily into 5G. 5G delivers an exponential leap in network speed and capacity in a period where the demand for data and a frictionless customer experience is exploding. The true power of 5G however is that it is arriving at the same time a number of other transformative technologies are maturing. They include IoT, cloud and edge computing, AI, SD-WAN, cyber security and many others. These technologies have far reaching implications for every industry. In many ways, we are entering the fourth industrial revolution as we enter the new decade.

This creates opportunities for businesses and governments to fundamentally transform their business systems and processes. These opportunities cover everything from monitoring logistics and supply chains, land and water use management, object recognition and video analytics, autonomous vehicles and drones, and enhanced medical and cancer research.

The potential applications of these technologies are too numerous to list, and too large for one organisation to develop on its own. Our innovation focus is on how we put these transformative technologies into the hands of the smartest people across different industries, provide them access to the resources they need to learn about them, and create the best environment in which to build and test their vision.

We have started this transformation journey already. We have had a long history in driving and investing in several incubation initiatives including Telstra Labs and muru-D. Here, we’ve developed industry-leading technologies like the Telstra Data Hub, Cellular Vehicle to Anything (C-V2X), Low Altitude Airspace Management (LAAM), etc. We have also helped startup founders take their early ventures and helped them grow across a range of industries.

This year, we developed a Telstra-wide Innovation Strategy that reflects our ambitions in the current economic climate and helps drive innovation fostering external partnerships. We also know we can’t do this alone, so we will continue to partner with technology leaders, industry bodies, educational institutes – to further educate our staff and also to help create a healthy talent pipeline – and work very closely with our enterprise customers and all levels of Government.

I have highlighted some of the transformation and change we are driving this year with many more exciting announcements to come.

Emerging technology at Telstra Labs

Telstra Labs’ goal is to explore and validate emerging deep technologies that have the potential to radically transform our economy and society; 5G, AI, IoT, xR, smart cities, autonomous machines, and wireless power are some of the things we are looking at. Recently, we have partnered with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to deliver the next stage of the Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot program that will see 500 vehicles being retrofitted with C-V2X to enable communication with the road network infrastructure systems, in order to alert the driver to potentially hazardous situations.

We also continue to advance drone technology. Our Low Altitude Aviation Management (LAAM) program trials have continued into 2020 and are testing technology to enable both manned and unmanned aircraft to fly in low altitude airspace by providing a system that manages the registration, identification, mission planning, mission approvals and declaration of location of recreational drones and commercial UAVs.

Commercialising technology innovation

Our most recently commercialised incubated product is the Telstra Data Hub, developed in partnership with Microsoft. It is designed to facilitate complex data sharing and permission scenarios, while alleviating the need to create multiple, bespoke point-to-point integrations required between systems. In less than a year, the product evolved from a project incubated inside Telstra Labs into an enterprise offering solving the specialised data needs of government and industry decision makers. Some of the projects underway include optimising rural water management with the Queensland government, developing digital farming solutions with Charles Sturt University, and Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute where we are collaborating on a data sharing and analytics ecosystem focused on understanding sudden cardiac death in young people.

muru-D

muru-D, our vehicle for engagement with the start-up ecosystem is also changing. Launched in 2013 and backed by Telstra, muru-D became one of the first and largest startup accelerators in Australia. The mission of muru-D was to support emerging entrepreneurial talent and businesses in Australia and Asia-Pacific, while helping provide pathways to success.

The local ecosystem has now greatly changed and there are now many start-up accelerators from venture capitalists, global accelerators, university and government partnerships to help early stage companies develop their initial product.

As part of Telstra’s annual innovation strategy review the decision was made this year to evolve muru-D and its structure and goals, to refocus on the current innovation environment.

We will use muru-D to provide start-ups with access to our core technologies and work selectively with more mature start-ups on partnerships with Telstra as either a supplier to us or as a go-to-market partner, including consuming and building new ecosystems around our network APIs.

Moving forward, muru-D will become Telstra’s vehicle for partnering with start-up accelerators, universities and other participants in the Australian start-up ecosystem. We will use muru-D to provide start-ups with access to our core technologies and work selectively with more mature start-ups on partnerships with Telstra as either a supplier to us or as a go-to-market partner, including consuming and building new ecosystems around our network APIs. muru-D will no longer be taking applications for future accelerator programs. And to support managing the existing muru-D portfolio, we have engaged international firm Pinsent Masons to take over the day-to-day administration of our portfolio investments.

We now want to help scale the next innovation opportunity by working closely with the current ecosystem as well as our strategic partners and universities. We are very proud to see what muru-D has become, the network of founders and mentors we’ve had the privilege to work with, its successes along the way, and where we can take the initiative moving forward.

Melbourne Connect

We’re committed to playing our part in building a pipeline of technology talent in Australia. So, we’re partnering with a number of universities to equip graduates with the skills and adaptability they need to succeed in our rapidly changing global environment. Our latest partnership is a $5M investment in the Telstra Creator Space (fabrication lab) at University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Connect technology and innovation precinct and 10 scholarships in STEM that focus on diversity and inclusion. We have initiated a number of student technology projects focused on 5G, Network Enablers and Power Systems, and we have built a joint pipeline of future R&D projects for 2021.

We have also begun a student placement program, with two female technologists receiving the Telstra Technology and Innovation Masters Scholarships for 2020 and joining Telstra in the summer on Network Engineering and Cybersecurity Internships.

Microsoft Strategic Alliance

Recently, we extended our long-standing partnership with Microsoft to:

  • harness IoT, Edge, AI and digital twin capability to develop important new industry solutions in areas such as asset tracking, supply chain management, telematics and smart spaces;
  • leverage Azure as preferred cloud for Telstra’s ongoing internal digital transformation;
  • explore and pursue technology and data-driven solutions to advance our sustainability and climate commitments; and
  • build ground-breaking, nationally important solutions that leverage the Telstra Data Hub.

Our combined goal is to deliver more innovative products for Australians that will increase customer experience and engagement, solve business challenges, and drive a new level of technology leadership. It is a great opportunity to drive further digital innovation to strengthen the Australian economy, and to build a sustainable, connected future so everyone can thrive

We anticipate that our relationships and engagements with our partners in government, industry and academia will continue to expand in scope as well as investment. Our ambition is to make Telstra a more open organisation, where the smartest minds can work with us to bring new technologies to life, in face-to-face and virtual environments, and even on a machine to machine basis.

The market is changing rapidly and we will continue to evolve to meet the demands of a changing environment. As Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau highlighted at the 2018 World Economic Forum, “The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.”

Strengthening our partnership further with Microsoft
Telstra News |

Strengthening our partnership further with Microsoft

By Andrew Penn September 25, 2020

Our deep relationship with Microsoft has delivered many successes over the years, in the products and services together we offer to customers, and in Telstra’s own operations. Today, we extend our partnership even further in ways that help us and our customers prepare for the future.

Microsoft and Telstra share a commitment to work closely with customers to help them achieve their business goals. This has been especially true during the disruption brought by COVID-19, proving how transformative digital ways of working and living can be – especially when there is no other option. As Australians chart a course out of their immediate response into a long-term reimagining of how they work, live and play, we want to help them emerge stronger and more resilient.

We already have a longstanding relationship with Microsoft and have worked together in areas that are market-leading and create unique experiences for our customers. Over the past 18 months, we have exclusively launched Xbox All Access for Australian gamers, announced Telstra Calling for Microsoft Office 365 for business customers to unify communications, and co-collaborated on Telstra Data Hub to help industries better manage their data securely.

Expanding our strategic alliance with Microsoft means we can focus on developing and co-collaborating on innovative and sustainable products, driving efficiency within our own business and our customers’. Using data and AI throughout our business and in our operations means decisions can be made with deep insights, reducing how long it takes to launch and ultimately, delivering better products.

Today’s announcement formalises some of the streams of work we are already collaborating on as well as new initiatives we will work on together. The global scale of Microsoft’s platform, tools, and applications, together with Telstra’s network solutions, reliability and leadership, will drive new and unique solutions for Australia.

As a centrepiece of our ongoing partnership, Telstra and Microsoft are collaborating to build an Azure ‘digital twin’ for our customers’ and our own commercial buildings and selected other infrastructure. A ‘digital twin’ is a structure that maps physical environments into the virtual space that provide an at-a-glance view of what is happening in the physical world. This helps better visualise the physical asset and its properties (be it a building, a farm, a mine, a shopping centre or hospital, etc. and its electricity, network, security, or water assets). It also helps immensely with scenario and what-if planning.

Below is the Digital Twin of our office in Melbourne; as you can see, we are able to monitor (and, in the future, potentially control) different physical assets in our building:

We also share an understanding with Microsoft that cloud combined with 5G will enable intelligent devices to be securely deployed on a much greater scale; this will be the cornerstone for IoT and AI applications and devices. As I have said before, we are entering the fourth industrial revolution in which we are already combining cloud with IoT, Edge, AI and digital twin capability to develop important new industry solutions in areas such as asset tracking, supply chain management, telematics and smart spaces solutions.

Last year, we launched the Telstra Data Hub, a modular, cloud-based platform designed to reduce the friction and cost of securely sharing data across organisations. Only a year later, we are already helping customers like The Queensland Government, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Charles Sturt University realise the value of their data to optimise their operations.

We have also selected Microsoft Azure as our preferred cloud provider for ongoing internal digital transformation. Azure will provide the digital foundations for Telstra’s strategic plan to streamline and simplify operations, transitioning from legacy and on-premise applications to modern cloud-based solutions.

Our commitment to acting on climate change is also reinforced through this partnership. In July, Telstra and our subsidiary Belong were the first telcos in Australia to be certified carbon neutral in our operations, and we have set ambitious goals to continue to lessen our impact on the environment. Today’s announcement is another proof point in this ambition. We know that significantly reducing emissions at the same time as the demand for connectivity is rising rapidly is one of the biggest challenges in the telecommunications industry.

COVID-19 has, by necessity, accelerated the digital transformation of thousands of Australian businesses including our own. Continuing to build a strong digital capability will allow us to create products and solutions that can help change the course of Australia’s digital economy with lasting impact.

For our customers, this will mean more innovative products across all segments of the market. We will continue work with Microsoft to solve business challenges for Australian enterprises as we aspire to reach a new level of technology leadership. We know that driving further digital innovation will strengthen our economy and will contribute towards a sustainable, connected future where everyone can thrive.

Xbox All Access at Telstra
Devices | Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

Giving you more for gaming on our network

By Nathan Gumley April 6, 2020

We’re on a quest to give customers access to some of the latest games and hardware available backed by our incredible network. That’s why we’re excited to announce with Xbox All Access, gamers can now get an Xbox One X at a new, lower monthly price, and we’re opening expressions of interest for the next-gen Xbox console.

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Xbox All Access gives Telstra fixed and post-paid mobile customers the ability to choose from two different gaming packages. Both packages include a 24-month membership to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which gives gamers access to over 100 great games and all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, including online multiplayer. Gamers can choose between Xbox One S or Xbox One X bundles.

We’ve got a lot to update today about our gaming offerings, including more value with Xbox One X, and the lowest latency available on an Australian ISP.

Xbox One X available at a new low monthly price

We’re excited to share through the Xbox All Access program, gamers can now get an Xbox One X for only $34 a month (over 24 months) for new customers, giving you an incredible library of games; awesome multiplayer experiences and access to 4K graphics.

Xbox All Access includes a 24-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership, with access to Xbox Game Studios titles the same day as their global release. This includes the upcoming, highly-anticipated Minecraft Dungeons.

Minecraft is the best-selling game of all time and Minecraft Dungeons is an all-new action-adventure game with online and couch co-op for up to four players, inspired by classic dungeon crawlers and set in the Minecraft universe. Launching on May 26, it’s the perfect time to experience a new and exciting way to play Minecraft with the family.

Xbox Series X: coming to Xbox All Access Holiday 2020

Xbox Series X will be the fastest, most powerful Xbox console ever, designed for a console generation that has the player at its center. When it is released this holiday season, Xbox Series X will set a new bar for performance, speed and compatibility, all while allowing players to bring their gaming legacy forward with them and play thousands of games from four generations.

We have an expression of interest page live now for Xbox Series X on Xbox All Access, and we’ll share more information in the future.

And not only will you get the fastest console ever made by Microsoft, you’ll also get it on our incredible network with the lowest latency available on an Australian ISP.

MVP for gaming ISPs

When we exclusively announced Xbox All Access last year, we detailed how we’d been working harder than ever to make sure our network featured the best possible experience for gamers playing online.

Developing a best-in-class multiplayer gaming experience for our customers is a matter of speed and distance. If data travels quickly over shorter distances, the experience will be better for our customers whether that be playing online or downloading the latest game.

That’s what’s called latency: the speed at which it takes for data to travel to and from a server. In online racing or first-person shooter games where acting before your opponent matters, latency can mean the difference between being on the top of the table or the bottom. Low latency is crucial for this reason.

Just as the ACCC measures data speeds over the nbn, so too does it measure latency.

We’re proud to announce that we have been ranked #1 in Australia for nbn latency performance*, making Telstra the place to be for gamers.

Along with our new latency achievements for online gaming, we’ve long had a reputation for network download speed in the real world. We’ve consistently been named the fastest broadband provider nationally for both fixed and mobile networks by the global download speed test benchmarkers at Ookla. We’ve also been ranked #1 by Netflix over and over as the best provider for streaming content from its service.

These wins – including our new top rank for latency performance – represent years of behind-the-scenes work to ensure that it’s tuned for exactly what our customers want: top-tier performance for stuff that matters, when it matters most.

If you’re into gaming or if you want to just dabble in it, switch to Telstra and enjoy the fastest and lowest latency online gaming experience in Australia. We’ll have more information about Xbox All Access soon and more news about our commitment to gamers later this year – w00t!

* Measuring Broadband Australia, Report 8, ACCC, Feb 2020