Network |

Celebrating faster speeds and more capacity on our network

By Chris Meissner September 29, 2020

COVID-19 has put pressure on network bandwidth around the world. The need for more data in more places means that networks have their work cut out for them. But we’re not about to buckle under that pressure. Not when a nation depends on us to ferry their bits and bytes around faster and to more places than ever before. Instead, we’ve brought forward critical work to increase the capacity and the speed of our transport network – with some whopping results.

With the help of our friends at Ericsson and Ciena, we’ve been able to improve our optical transmission network (essentially the big pipes that carry internet traffic between data centres and major cities), to deliver speeds of up to 400Gbps between data centres, up from 100Gbps just a year ago.

What this means is more speed for the next-generation of applications, connectivity and technology. The network is geared for 5G, cloud computing, high-definition video streaming and calling, as well as futuristic applications like edge-computing.

And we’re doing it all with lower power and hardware consumption which helps contribute to our carbon emission targets.

By upgrading our optical transmission networks with 400Gbps technology, Telstra will be able to cater for capacity demands of up to 400 per cent of what was previously achievable. The upgrade enables us to rapidly deliver services to customers at scale without fibre builds, decreasing the time to market from weeks, to days.

This work to upgrade our optical transmission network was always on the cards as part of our Networks for the Future program, but we’ve rapidly accelerated the deployment with our partners due to COVID-19. People need more speed and reliability now, and we’re not about to make them wait!

In fact, we’re not even finished yet. Today we stand at 400Gbps transfer speeds between data centres – some at a distance of hundreds of kilometres away. But we’ve already successfully trialled faster and more efficient bandwidth at a speed of 700Gbps over 1000km between capital cities. The work of creating a faster, smarter and more efficient network for Aussies is never done.

Data is one of the world’s most valuable currencies, especially in the age of COVID-19 when workforces are more distributed than ever, online education is more prevalent than ever, and remote connectivity is vital for everything from healthcare to entertainment.

The need for speed over the next decade is very real, and we’re excited to be on the cutting edge for our customers.

Unveiling our first 5G device, after a year of network evolution
5G |

We’ve smashed another speed record with mmWave 5G

By Nikos Katinakis September 24, 2020

Together with Ericsson, we’ve set a new network speed record achieving peak download speeds of 4.2Gbps on a 5G mmWave data call.

This accomplishment represents a doubling of previous capacity and speeds and reinforces our position as one of the leaders in mmWave and 5G technology globally.

This result was achieved on our commercial network at the Telstra 5G Innovation Centre in Queensland using a mobile test platform, an Ericsson Radio System base-station, Ericsson’s Network Software and Ericsson core network. The tests combined eight 100MHz channels using 2×2 MIMO and 64QAM technologies.

The Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro – the only mmWave compatible device currently available for purchase in Australia – was put through similar tests and achieved a network record of its own when it clocked 200Mbps on the uplink, as part of the same testing.

The Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro  test was carried out using mmWave in Telstra’s commercial network and used the latest 8 carrier x 100MHz aggregation software (8cc) for the device.

Just two years on from our 2Gbps speed demonstration at Mobile World Congress, we’ve more than doubled our existing network peak speed record as we  deploy 5G and ready ourselves for the rollout of mmWave technologies in 2021.

mmWave spectrum will go to auction next year and will bring with it massive capacity over short ranges – making it ideal for high bandwidth applications that require a guaranteed level of throughput.

Even though spectrum isn’t yet on sale, we already have mmWave sites live on our network for testing and optimisation.

Over the last 18 months, we have laid solid foundations for our 5G service. We now have more than 1500 Telstra 5G sites on-air across selected areas of 53 cities and towns. More than 1000 suburbs nationally have more than 50% 5G coverage and we’re working towards having 75% of the population covered with Telstra 5G by July 2021.

Furthermore, our 5G was recently ranked #1 by Ookla for average 5G download speeds* in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and by Umlaut for 5G speeds and availability in all 8 of the tested cities (Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide & Perth).

mmWave will add another level to Australia’s best 5G and we are pleased to be working with our partners such as Ericsson, innovating at the cutting edge of mobile technology.

Things you need to know

*Based on analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data for Q2 2020 average 5G download speeds in Australia. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.

Tech and Innovation |

Innovation and technology are the foundation of Australia’s new normal

By Kim Krogh Andersen August 24, 2020

There’s no doubt technology has helped Australians address the changes that COVID-19 has brought on. From working, learning, socialising, shopping, eating, being informed and entertained, technology has been the foundation as we attempt to continue with our lives as much as possible. COVID-19 has swiftly forced the uptake of digitisation and changed our behaviour forever.

As a nation, we have collectively invested time and resources into learning how technology can help improve our lives in 2020, and we expect it to continue to play a vital role in the years to come.

Looking forward, COVID-19 will change the way we live and work forever. Just like other times of significant change and disruption, we need to learn the lessons, adapt to a new norm, and come out of it stronger. We cannot miss this chance to ensure the pandemic becomes a catalyst for innovation and growth in order of a better future.

In the home this year, we relied heavily on a stable and fast internet connection to support our working-and-learning from home environments during the day, while depending on it for seamless video streaming and gaming in the evenings. Furthermore, Australians have increasingly realised the benefits of shopping for goods and services online. Even when COVID-19 passes, we expect our newly-formed habits to remain, having a better appreciation of a fast, strong, and reliable internet and Wi-Fi connection.

Outside of the home, innovation was also being developed and deployed to keep us safe when we leave the front door.

The Government encouraged Australians to download and use the COVIDSafe app in order to provide an easier way to automate contact tracing to reduce further infections.

Telstra’s Track and Monitor asset-tracking platform was used by a healthcare industry customer as they swiftly deployed COVID-19 triage clinics across the east coast of Australia. This helped ensure there were no misplaced expensive and in-demand equipment, especially during a time of constant change.

We also saw the fragility and our dependency on delivery and supply chain systems, exposing the lack of end-to-end visibility. As an example, we are working with major suppliers to accelerate the development of Telstra’s Connected Supply Chain product and are also negotiating with transport companies to help increase supply chain visibility with domestic deliveries.

Quick, transparent and interactive communication was also very important. Victoria’s Department of Health & Human Services needed technology to help ensure compliance to the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for close contacts of COVID-19 and chose Whispir’s mass communication platform to perform this function with great success.

It is more imperative than ever to ensure the country does not encounter a second wave of nation-wide infections and the respective lockdown as a result. If it were to happen, the OECD has said the Australian economy could decline by 6.3 per cent this year, which would take us back to where it was in 2016.

The technology pioneered to help manage the pandemic will continue to help us live in the ‘new normal’.

Travellers passing through Canberra Airport may notice new Temperature Screening solutions at the security check-in. This allows the airport to increase its protection against COVID-19 and includes thermal cameras to detect travellers with high temperatures. The key goal is to help reassure passengers transiting through public spaces like airports. We may see more of this type of technology installed at other public spaces like train stations, shopping centres, and maybe even at some workplaces where thousands of people pass through daily.

Traditional offices will also evolve as a result of COVID-19. Employees will demand to be allowed to continue working from home after the forced experiment pressured companies to change their flexible-working mindset and accelerate the required digitisation. This also meant the need to evolve the cyber security, technology processes, and communication and collaboration tools to enable successful remote working. The pandemic has pushed CIOs and IT departments (no matter what size) to finally modernise various procedures and systems.

Telstra’s Smart Building product already measures people’s movement through infrared sensor data to deliver insights on desk usage, meeting room usage and general occupancy levels. The product is now being expanded to measure social distancing and hygiene compliance, and will be highly relevant to all industries, especially retail, transport, health, and commercial offices.

Elsewhere, video analytics will be deployed to assist critical industries with real-time thermal scanning to ensure the ongoing safety of staff and the public. AI will help deliver insights such as people flow and count, movement analysis, alerts, and more.

There is also set to be a widespread acceleration of automation (as robots can’t contract COVID-19) which has several drivers. One of the interesting opportunities I’ve seen is robots that can clean, disinfect, help detect fever symptoms, and monitor mask and social distancing compliance.

In the home, we’ll see faster internet enabling more advanced entertainment and educational technologies. I expect further innovation in television, gaming, smart home, and communication devices will be front and centre in consumer electronics R&D in the next 12-24 months.

I have no doubt these examples of technology and innovation will be scaled even further.

COVID-19 has reinforced how critical technology is for our daily lives, specifically dependable and fast connectivity. The swift need for network reliability and resiliency when we first moved to working from home, was an early indication of how vital connectivity will be in the future.

The world is slowly exploring ultra-reliable low latency use cases like autonomous driving, remote surgery, robotics, smart cities and smart homes. 5G, Edge Computing, IoT and AI are critical technologies for us to enable these advanced scenarios, but we can’t forget security, privacy, customer experience, and operational excellence are equally as important when we embark on this journey. Because it’s people that will give purpose to technology.

COVID-19 has meant new cultural and workforce transformation for the better. We strongly believe technology plays a central role in these shifting and accelerating trends and will be the foundation in what the new normal looks like for Australians – in the home, at the office, and anywhere in between.

Cyber security control room team, development and operations in the Digital Economy of the future
Tech and Innovation | Telstra News |

Growing Australia’s digital economy out of COVID-19

By Andrew Penn June 26, 2020

When COVID-19 made many of us shut our doors, something happened. Digital doors opened in their place. We embraced technology like never before to keep businesses running, people working, kids learning and ourselves entertained.

We now have a growing digital economy – something I recently highlighted as a significant opportunity we as a nation should seize. With businesses reopening and social restrictions relaxing, (albeit with some constraints given the risk of increased infections), we should stop thinking about post-COVID-19 as only a “recovery”, but as an opportunity to grow the economy in the long term and put us in a better global position.

From the Industrial Revolution to the Great Depression, profound disruption has brought opportunities to be bold, to re-think conventional wisdom, and seek out new economic and social opportunities to help build a stronger future for everyone.

COVID-19 has proved change can be made and embraced quickly. During the height of the pandemic we saw a huge acceleration in digitisation – from telehealth to online learning, remote working and e-commerce – and the fast-tracking of numerous policy and regulatory changes to break down long-standing digital roadblocks.

As a nation we have achieved in a few months what might have taken us years to progress, and it is important that we now do not lose that momentum.

However, a single company, a single organisation or a single government cannot achieve this on its own. Through coalitions across the public and private sectors, we can affect change by removing barriers and incentivising growth so it is faster and more pervasive.

Over the past few weeks I have been Chairing the Business Council of Australia (BCA) Digital Economy and Telecommunications working group, and this is exactly our aim: to map out tangible ways we can put Australia at the forefront of a digital future – paperless, cashless and virtual – so we can come out of this stronger as a nation, not just bounce back.

This requires reform in five key areas: 

  1. Digital transition 
  2. Infrastructure 
  3. Regulation 
  4. Cyber Security 
  5. Skills  

1. Digital transition

Australia’s local businesses and enterprises pivoted quickly to ensure they could keep running – from working from home, to medical practitioners delivering telehealth consultations, we even saw interactive online cheese tasting sessions!

Technology was at the core of many businesses that adapted well. That said, a range of recent studies found that Australia’s small-to-medium enterprise sector could be substantially enhanced by a greater investment in digitising their internal processes and developing an effective web presence. Xero’s September 2019 Small Business insights indicate that businesses that boost technology spending the most grow revenue three times faster than those with the weakest technology spend.

Some options we are exploring include potential incentives and assistance to help the small business sector access the benefits of greater digitisation of business processes and an improved online presence.

2. Infrastructure

Connectivity is what powered many workers and businesses during the crisis, ensuring they could continue running.

For Australians to effectively participate in the digital economy, they need access to affordable, fast and reliable telecommunications services.

Telstra announced $500 million of capital expenditure planned for the second half of FY21 would be brought forward into the calendar year 2020, to increase capacity in our network, accelerate our roll-out of 5G, power more people with connectivity as well as provide a much needed economic boost.

With the completion of the nbn rollout nearing, there is now an opportunity for the Australian Government to develop its future vision for Australia’s digital economy and the telecommunications industry for the next decade – a vision that is technology agnostic and provides an environment that is pro-investment and pro-innovation.

3. Regulation

Governments and regulators play a significant role in enabling a digital nation, as well as ensuring as many Australians as possible can take advantage of the opportunity.

They took significant steps forward during the pandemic, including measures to help provide better access to telehealth, virtual AGMs, electronic execution of documents, and national electronic pharmacy scripts.

In the spirit of those last two initiatives, the BCA will be recommending a systematic review of regulation from federal to state to local, to eliminate barriers to a virtual and paperless society and a cashless economy.

4. Cyber Security

Last week was a timely reminder about the importance of strong cyber security, with the Prime Minister highlighting major cyber-attacks that are putting pressure on critical infrastructure and public services.

Cyber security is a large and growing area of risk for the security of the nation, and COVID-19 has increased that risk with so many people working and studying from home, away from traditional security measures.

Separately, I have been working with the Government chairing its industry advisory panel on the development of the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy. This will contain a number of significant initiatives to strengthen our collective cyber defences.

5. Skills

It was inspiring to see the flexible and innovative mindset many businesses adopted during the pandemic. This mindset needs to be deeply ingrained in Australian culture and to do this we need to invest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) skills.

We have partnered with five Australian universities to jointly develop critical skills and capabilities in areas such as network and software engineering, cyber security and data analytics. But we also need more people entering technology courses, and particularly more diverse talent, including female and Indigenous students.

We are also working on a suite of proposed improvements to the way industry and the education system collaborate, to ensure Australia’s school leavers have the foundation skills needed to succeed in the modern digital economy.

Australia’s opportunity to lead

The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has left many businesses and families doing it tough and we need to do everything we can to build a stronger economy in the longer term in response.

Australia has been a world leader when it comes to protecting the nation’s health and economy during COVID-19, and now we can lead again. It will be important in so doing that this includes success for all of our communities.

I recently posed the question What type of historical moment will this turn out to be?. As life slowly begins to return to some type of normal, we are approaching a sliding doors moment.

We can go back to the way things were, or we can build on the innovative, can-do mindset that drove so many positive changes during the most significant disruption to daily life in a generation.

Regional |

How to stay connected with antennas and repeaters

By Luke Hopewell April 30, 2020

With many of us now working and learning from home we’re all relying on mobile connectivity more than ever. That means staying online is crucial, especially in regional and rural areas. That’s why we have a range of gear to keep you online when your signal is spotty. Here’s how to get the most out of everything from external antennas to repeaters when in regional and rural Australia.

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What influences your network coverage?

Like any mobile network, coverage on ours depends on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) your device, and whether an external antenna can be attached.

Where you’ll be using your device – whether it’s in a regional, rural or metropolitan area, indoors or out or even out-to-sea – also plays a role.

Finally, obstructions – such as buildings, trees, vehicles, hills and even building materials – can all reduce signal strength between your device and the cell tower.

Check out our coverage maps on Telstra.com and figure out where you can get the best coverage.

Ensuring the best signal strength in rural areas comes down to how you want to use the device out in the bush.

Getting mobile data coverage

Using a mobile data device – such as a smartphone or mobile broadband modem – is a great way to stay connected on the move.

Data rates are often improved by getting greater signal strength and quality to the device. This is achieved via the use of external antennas.

Using a patch cord, you can connect your device to either a medium-gain panel antenna where handheld coverage is available near the installation location, or a high-gain Yagi antenna where handheld coverage is not available near installation location to improve your service.

A panel antenna is most common, and can assist with mobile coverage inside buildings, especially when you’re on the edge of a coverage area. A 2.4-metre yagi antenna, meanwhile, is designed more for outdoor or mobile use.

If installing a yagi antenna, you should ensure it is pointed at the nearest cell tower. For best results, ensure the elements are facing vertically when installing, and the drain hole in the main element is facing downwards.

Also ensure your antenna is securely mounted with the support of a bracket, and installed in a way that it won’t be taken down by the elements.

Getting mobile data and voice coverage

Making sure you can do voice and data in the bush requires a little more than just an antenna and patch cord, however. If you’re within range of your Fixed Broadband Wi-Fi connection and have a compatible Telstra mobile, you can use Telstra Wi-Fi Calling. With Wi-Fi Calling, Your mobile simply uses your W-Fi network instead of the mobile network. So you can make and receive calls as you normally would.

Another way to get it is via a network coverage extension device like a repeater.

Repeaters amplify signal like a PA system. For the repeater to work correctly the antenna picking up mobile signal (your “microphone”, if you will) must be isolated from the antenna giving mobile signal (or “speaker” in this metaphor).

It’s important to note that boosters are illegal to own or operate on any network in Australia, and they can disrupt or even prevent others from making calls to emergency 000.

There are a range of devices and repeaters you can use to maximise your voice and data coverage in remote areas, including:

  • Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna (TMSA):
    • Can maximise both 3G and 4G at the same time
    • Consists of two units and can be used with or without external antenna depending on available coverage
    • Designed for in home use and requires 240V power point
  • Telstra Go Repeater:
    • Two types of Telstra Go. There is a mobile unit for a vehicle or a stationary unit for a home/business.
    • Only maximises 3G or 4G at one time, selectable via button on device.
    • Correct installation required
    • Requires separate High Gain Vehicle mount antenna for optimum performance
    • There is an app for both Apple or Android devices that enables checking the performance of the device. The app is called Wave by Nextivity and can be found on the Play Store or App Store.

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Blue Tick-certified

We’ve got all the latest and greatest smartphones on our network, and we make sure they’re rigorously tested before we stock them. The devices that perform the best in tough coverage areas are awarded our highest honour: the Blue Tick.

Our coveted Blue Tick signifies that a mobile device has been thoroughly tested and delivers superior voice coverage in rural and regional areas. Devices are tested for receiver sensitivity in a laboratory under controlled conditions and in rural areas on the Telstra Mobile Network, ensuring optimal call quality for customers.

Read more about what goes into making a phone Blue Tick-certified.

Things you need to know
Depending on device capability and available coverage, network coverage extension devices can improve 3G and 4G coverage on the Telstra Mobile Network. Not all network coverage extension devices allow direct connection to the handset or broadband device. External antenna accessories are only available for selected handset and broadband models. Please refer to the device manufacturer for specifications or contact a Telstra Store for more assistance.