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Tag: networks

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5: the continuing evolution of our mobile network

Telstra News

Posted on October 9, 2019

4 min read

As we grow our mobile network around Australia and upgrade it with the latest technology, we occasionally come to a point where it is necessary to say goodbye to older technology, and to use the spectrum it was carried on to boost the performance of newer and more efficient technology.

In December 2016, we switched off our 2G technology to provide more spectrum for our 4G technology. Today, as part of our program to continually upgrade our network to the latest technology and expand our 4G and 5G coverage, we’re announcing the eventual switch-off of our 3G technology. This will not happen until June 2024 – more than four years away.  

In May this year we launched 5G with the release of the first 5G devices in Australia. As an early adopter and pioneer of 5G, we are on the cusp of the latest mobile technology worldwide.

Telstra’s 5G technology is now available in selected sites within 10 cities around Australia, and over the next year we expect our coverage to expand to at least 35 Australian cities. Our investment to bring 5G to Australia is significant, and forms part of our around $8 billion of spend in our mobile network over the last five years (to 30 June 2019) to enhance the capacity and reach it is providing.  

To help continue enhancing the network, it will eventually mean our older network technology will need to be switched off, so the spectrum that is used to carry data and voice calls over our oldest mobile network technology can be repurposed to help grow 5G.

Telstra’s 3G technology – which you might also know as NextG – was switched on in 2006, and was heralded at the time for its more reliable service, increased speeds and coverage, and what it enabled for customers and businesses on the go. It was the start of being able to send picture messages, stream video and access the internet on smartphones.

As network technology advances, we can use our network to deliver better experiences and meet the changing ways that we use mobile data.

Similarly to when we turned off our CDMA technology and re-purposed its 850MHz spectrum for 3G services, switching off 3G will let us again repurpose this same spectrum this time to 5G to allow us to continue growing and improving our latest generation 5G technology to meet your data needs in the future. The era of 5G will bring ever greater advancements in areas like mobile gaming, virtual reality experiences, HD video conferencing, driverless cars and other applications that haven’t even been dreamt up yet. 

We are giving our customers more than four years’ notice to prepare for the change ahead of the June 2024 closure date.

Between now and then we’ll be upgrading and expanding our 4G coverage to a materially equivalent size and reach to our 3G footprint. Most customers will generally notice an improvement in speed when using a compatible device – in many cases a substantial one. We are working to assess our product range and all current areas with 3G only coverage in order to give you the best possible experience on 4G and 5G.

We are committed to delivering the best possible network for regional Australia. In 2011 we were the first carrier to extend 4G services into regional areas and we now reach 99.2 per cent of the Australian population. We are not going to rest on our laurels as we push forward into the era of 5G, and we are always going to strive to do the best we can for all our customers wherever they are across the country.

Mobile technology is progressing at a rapid pace. And Telstra is leading the way.

Tags: networks,

Boosting Australia’s connection to the world with Southern Cross

Business and Enterprise

Posted on October 2, 2019

3 min read

As we continue to develop the fast, high-capacity, low-latency networks that connect Australians to each other, we must also think about how we connect to the rest of the world. That’s why we’ve been working hard with our partners at the Southern Cross Cable Network to strengthen our investment in current infrastructure while planning for future growth.

72,000 leagues under the sea

You could be forgiven for thinking that connectivity between countries was predominately handled by satellites and other space-based infrastructure. In fact, the real solutions are buried deep beneath the waves. Subsea cables form a crucial part of our international network infrastructure.

Telstra operates the largest intra-Asia subsea cable network in the region, and we’re growing our footprint in Asia-Pacific with critical new cable paths. Our subsea cable network currently spans more than 400,000 kilometres – or just under 72,000 nautical leagues – under the sea. Jules Verne would be proud!

Such a vast network is enough to circle the globe more than 10 times over. This elaborate and impressive network of fibre optic cables continues to expand as we keep pace with the voracious appetite Australians have for high-speed data. But more than just planning for capacity, we’re mindful that we need to build resiliency at the same time as speed.

That’s where our investment with Southern Cross Cable Network comes in.

Almost 80 per cent of all internet traffic to Australia comes from the US, which makes the need for a high-speed and low-latency connection between our two nations paramount. Our new investment in the Southern Cross Cable Network’s (SCCN) existing cable infrastructure as well as the upcoming NEXT cable is about safeguarding that connectivity for the future.

Telstra has acquired a 25 per cent equity interest in the existing Southern Cross Cable Network, joining existing shareholders in the project. It follows several other investments in our subsea cable infrastructure, including:

  • A significant increase in fibre capacity to our subsea infrastructure using Infinera’s Infinite Capacity Engine 4, and
  • The launch of a new rapid restoration service on our assured availability “Always on” service – a world-first offering to key routes in Asia – reducing restoration time from within eight hours to just minutes.

The investment in Southern Cross builds on our existing footprint across Asia-Pacific where we carry over 30 per cent of the region’s active capacity.

Alongside these investments, we’re excited to also partner with SCCN as one of the anchor customer for its upcoming NEXT cable. Designed to carry 72 Terabits per second of traffic, the equivalent of simultaneously streaming 4.6 million ultra-high definition movies, Southern Cross’s NEXT will meet our customers’ growing data requirements well into the future.

With the completion of the Southern Cross NEXT cable scheduled for January 2022, Telstra customers will have access to capacity across the three routes across the Pacific, connecting Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the United States, maximising diversity and resiliency.

Thanks to our subsea investments, we are now well placed to meet the growing data requirements of our customers now and into the future, right across the Asia-Pacific region.

Celebrating 20 years at our Global Operations Centre


Posted on August 30, 2019

3 min read

Telstra Global Operations Centre

This week, we’re celebrating the 20th birthday of our Global Operations Centre in Clayton, Victoria. 

The state of the art facility took six years to develop and build, and cost $35 million. 

Our entire network across Australia and overseas is monitored around the clock from this one site.  

“When the GOC was put together it was the first facility of its kind in the world, we believe, that managed both copper networks and optical networks from a single place,” said Ian Wood, who leads this Centre and the IT Command Centre. 

The GOC’s stunning centrepiece is a massive digital video wall. It measures 24 metres long and 2.5 metres high. It enables staff to monitor Telstra’s fixed, broadband, satellite, broadcast television, data and mobile networks in real time. The surveillance hall itself is more than four times larger than NASA’s Houston control centre. 

The GOC has monitored over a trillion local calls since opening and hundreds of billions of text messages. 

“As technology has evolved, we’ve moved more into the optical networks and undersea cable networks,” Mr Wood explained. 

“Telstra’s been a leader in many technologies and 4G, 5G are examples of those technologies and the teams here are well integrated into both the product side of our business as well as the technology side of our business, therefore when these technologies go live, we are well prepared to support them.” 

“I think that celebrating 20 years is a significant milestone not just for the people who are here today, but importantly for the people who have come before us. I think the important thing is to reflect on the history of who’s been here and supported our communities in Australia.” 

“There’s been hundreds of technicians and engineers move through our centre, and every single one of them has been passionate about customers, our community and ensuring that Telstra is the best we can possibly be,” Mr Wood said. 

As we move into the 2020s and the deployment of 5G throughout Australia, there is an excitement at the GOC with future possibilities. 

“Our goal is to become the centre of expertise for operations within our product enablement groups, and within our engineering groups. The team at the GOC knows Operations, they’re the leaders, they’re the best and they’re a great crew,” he said. 

Tags: 4g, 5g, networks,

Shaping tomorrow, together: what to expect from Telstra Vantage 2019

Telstra Vantage™ Business and Enterprise

Posted on August 27, 2019

4 min read

Next Monday, we’re opening the doors to Telstra Vantage 2019, our sixth annual showcase of world-class ideas, technology and business solutions.

This year, it’s all about “shaping tomorrow, together” with our customers; working hand in hand to identify opportunities for growth, create efficiencies and overcome business challenges through the power of our networks and technology.

We’re taking over more than 70,000 square metres of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre with our Telstra World demonstrations plus exhibits from more than 100 partners. We’re also running more than 70 sessions, panel discussions and keynote presentations from Telstra and our partners across eight theatres and forum spaces throughout the week.

Here are our top picks from the action-packed agenda – stay tuned to Telstra Exchange for all the latest Telstra Vantage 2019 news.

Day One – Wednesday 4 September

Opening Keynote: Let’s shape tomorrow, together – Andrew Penn & Michael Ebeid – 9.45am

Telstra’s Chief Executive Officer and Enterprise Group Executive will explore how cutting edge technology and boundless collaboration is shaping the future of our businesses, our communities and our country.

Exclusive sports and performance panel – Darren Lockyer, David McAllister AM, Sam Docherty & Lisa Alexander – 10:30am

Join our star-studded panel of specialists from the NRL, The Australian Ballet, the AFL and the Australian Diamonds as they share valuable insights about what it takes to maintain peak performance.

Next-gen networks for the future of business – Nikos Katinakis – 10.55am

How will the exponential rise of data affect customer experience? How will it impact your business and bottom line? In this session, we’ll explore the macro trends you need to be aware of and how Telstra’s next-gen ‘network of networks’ can help your business meet the challenges of a digitalised future.

How 5G can foster transformation – Christian von Reventlow – 12.30pm

Discover how the convergence of maturing technologies – like software-defined networking, IoT, cloud computing and more – can be accelerated with 5G. Learn about some of the most exciting ways 5G will unlock new market opportunities across different industries.

2020 vision: the CISO’s perspective – Berin Lautenbach & Kate Healy – 2.00pm

A profound transformation is underway with the arrival of 5G, convergence and IoT. What’s the best way to ensure your organisation is secure? Telstra’s CISO and Telstra Enterprise’s Principal Cyber Security Strategist answer your questions about security, and share how Telstra is looking to address these challenges in 2020 and beyond.

Day Two – Thursday 5 September

How to shift from surviving to thriving – Kamal Sarma – 10.15am

Learning how to navigate and overcome challenges is critical for success in the business world. Organisational and personal resilience are two of the most powerful skills for negotiating these situations. Join monk-turned-exec-turned-venture-capitalist Kamal Sarma as he unpacks his learnings and gives you the strategies you need to build your resilience, maintain focus and clarity, and thrive in the short and long term.

Exploring the future of Australia’s workforce with Bernard Salt – 11.30am

What will the Australian workplace look like tomorrow? What jobs will define our next decade? Join leading social commentator and demographer Bernard Salt as he explores the workplace of the future and the effect tech, AI and robotics will have on the workforce of 2020-2028.

Co-creating 5G for tomorrow – Channa Seneviratne – 12.15pm

Hear from Telstra customers who are harnessing the potential of 5G and learn how they’re leveraging Telstra’s networks to gain a competitive advantage. Discover how Telstra is co-creating and innovating alongside these customers, and see how they’re using new devices that leverage 4G today with a pathway to 5G. 

Winning the customer mindshare – Gretchen Cooke – 1.00pm

How are different organisations delivering extraordinary business outcomes for their customers? Our panel of CIOs and Executives will provide their perspective on shifts in customer expectations. Some of the areas they’ll cover include: direct vs. indirect customer engagement models, designing for the future business environment, static performance vs. innovative, adaptive performance, and the positive power of people in winning the customer mindshare.

Data collaboration across industries – Bruce Healy – 1.45pm

The rate at which data is generated and collected is accelerating exponentially, presenting a unique opportunity for businesses ready to rise to the challenge. Join our panel of customer, research and industry representatives as they explore what data collaboration means to them, the changes occurring at different levels, and how digital innovation can help you to keep up with increasing demands.

Live from the Moon: how we helped the world see Apollo 11


Posted on July 19, 2019

9 min read

Landing on the Moon was the uniting moment of the 20th Century, bringing people of all nationalities together to look up and marvel at our collective achievement as a human race. Many nations played a role in putting man on the Moon and bringing him home, and Australia’s role was to facilitate a broadcast that would be watched by the whole world. Sadly, over time the names and roles of all involved have been lost or rearranged or forgotten. This is the story of the pictures you know, from those who showed our whole world the wonder of another.

In a world of misquotes, misnomers and misunderstandings around who said what and when, there’s a single quote that is always delivered correctly:

“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Those words will echo in our collective consciousness for eternity. Indeed, 50 years later, they still haven’t lost their meaning. For all our differences in race, our language, our politics and more down here on Earth, space is a collective pursuit that unites us as a species.

Wherever we are in the world, we look up and see the Moon as it moves through the night sky. Mankind put footsteps on our closest celestial body 50 years ago on 20 July, 1969 – and humanity watched it happen.

The greatest show (not) on Earth

600 million people watched the Moon landing live on their TVs around the world. That viewership feels small when you consider that everyone now has a screen in their pocket, with the ability to live-stream worldwide events like the Olympics or a royal wedding – but in 1969, screens were hard to come by.

In the 1960s, televisions cost around $400 for a black and white model, and just shy of $800 for a top-of-the-line colour set, between 17 and 23 inches in size. The buying power of the dollar was also far less in 1969, with average weekly earnings ranging from $63 to $72. With that in mind, hearing that people literally went out and bought televisions to watch the Moon landing, you realise the significance of those pictures entering people’s homes for the first time.

TV networks responded to this uptick in audience by feeding their huge demand for content. From the time the Apollo 11 astronauts blasted off atop a Saturn V rocket on 16 July, 1969, to when Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon eight days later, hundreds of hours of broadcast were dedicated to the trans-lunar voyage – and its ultimate objective.

Long before TV networks all over the world were creating shows and news content from their own studios, it was decided that footage of Armstrong putting boot-prints into the lunar surface would have to come through Australia.

NASA struck a deal with Australia to help broadcast from the Moon, live, through Australian equipment, including the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station just outside Canberra and the Parkes Radio Telescope in regional New South Wales, among other supporting facilities.

But the signals didn’t simply flow out of the lunar lander and onto TV screens all over the world.

That’s where Australia’s Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC) came in – Telstra, before we were Telstra.

When Apollo came to town

Connected to the handful of radio telescopes receiving data, video and audio of the Apollo 11 spacecraft was a facility in Australia owned by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission – OTC for short.

Established in the mid-1940s, the OTC was charged with the carriage of international telecommunications services in and out of Australia.­ OTC would go on to be amalgamated with the Australian domestic carrier Telecom, and would eventually become Telstra.

Part of the OTC’s mandate was to support NASA’s work in developing manned space flight initiatives throughout the early 1960s. OTC helped broadcast signals from the manned Apollo 8 mission in 1968, and supported the Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft (ARIA) project. The ARIA program saw two Boeing 707s flying over the Northern Territory and New Guinea, with a tracking dish locked on the location of a space capsule in between Earth and the Moon. The telemetry it received was routed back to NASA via OTC.

So skilled were Aussie techs at routing clear and accurate signals back to NASA that after Apollo 8, the OTC received a special citation for its efforts supporting space flight. It read: “The dedication and skill of the leaders and all personnel… in maintaining reliable communications insured [sic] the success of the first manned lunar-orbit mission and made it possible for millions of people around the world to witness man’s first venture into extraterrestrial space.”

OTC equipment, facilities and staff became intimately involved with the program as the Apollo 11 mission drew closer, especially when it came to providing TV signals and audio from the Moon. OTC provided around 90 per cent of the telecommunications links in the Southern Hemisphere at the time, so it was the ideal choice as a carrier of crucial space comms back to Mission Control in Houston.

OTC’s main telecommunication gateway between Australia and the rest of the world was situated in the inner Sydney suburb of Paddington.

These days, the OTC’s Sydney Video centre is tucked in between trendy pubs and fashion boutiques, standing as a quiet reminder of our proud history connecting mankind with the Moon. Back in 1969, six floors of the OTC exchange building were overrun by specialist broadcast and receiving equipment from our friends at NASA in the weeks leading up to the lunar landing.

John Vossen, an OTC/PMG staffer working at Sydney Video on the day of the Moon landing, recalls that some NASA personnel had issues adapting their equipment to Australian standards.

Weeks before the landing when NASA staffers entered the building with their equipment, one member of the US team went out and bought a 240-volt plug, connected it to a wall socket and then plugged it into a decoding unit designed for video transmission. ”A loud bang and puff of smoke ensured the power supply was at its ‘end-of-life’”, Vossen says, before the crew procured a replacement.

The solution to the power problems? Running a series of generators to power 50-watt batteries attached to a builder’s plank, allowing the decoding unit to run for two hours at a time. Allan Hennessy, who joined the NASA group as an OTC staffer, said it was “just another job at the time”.

“All too easy,” he added.


Security was tight at the OTC facility in the days leading up to Apollo 11. These days, we aren’t surprised by heightened monitoring and security screenings, but back in 1969 such precautions were bewildering to see.

The sensitive nature of the NASA equipment that transmitted pictures and audio from the Australian tracking stations meant that the front door of the Paddington exchange was sealed ahead of the landing. That meant all visitors and even the cleaning staff had to use the back stairs to gain entry to the newly upgraded international telecommunications fortress. Cleaners were even monitored by security and NASA personnel when they went through the exchange in the days up to the landing – just in case they tried to touch any of the carefully calibrated equipment.

Many OTC and NASA staff worked around the clock at the Paddington exchange building – “Sydney Video”, in their parlance – ahead of the lunar landing. All the equipment was installed, and staff began the process of checking once, twice, three times, to ensure that everything worked perfectly for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

The paint had only just dried on a lot of the facilities being used to broadcast the Moon landing in Australia, and the gear at their disposal was state-of-the-art by 1969 standards. Links between the Australian coasts had only just been completed a year before the Moon landing, and the cable that sent data between Sydney and Melbourne was barely five years old.

We might scoff now at what was once considered state of the art, but with coaxial cables and only a few hundred bits of data being sent per second, OTC was able to work Moon magic – both for the broadcast and behind the scenes.

Through this equipment, Sydney Video received an incredible amount of data during the trans-lunar injection. The ARIA tracking flights, for example, received telemetry from the capsule as it made its way to the moon, some of which was received by CSIRO radio telescopes and routed to NASA Mission Control via the Sydney Video centre and its coaxial submarine cable. In a press release issued by OTC at the time, an OTC staff member said that the astronauts were impressed how “extremely clear and crisp” the link between the Apollo spacecraft and mission control was, given how far the radio waves had to travel.

The amount of bandwidth required to support the Apollo landing was huge at the time. The number of international circuits – 49 in total – used by the OTC for NASA in 1969 was more than the total number of circuits available in the whole country just 10 years prior. OTC hailed it as a success – not only for their being able to command this many circuits for a singular purpose but to do so and still support the normal use of telecommunications services in Australia at the same time.

These days we take for granted the ability to watch a video and make a call simultaneously – we’ve all mindlessly tapped away at our phones while curled up on the couch watching TV – but in 1969, it was an incredible achievement.

As Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon on 20 July 1969 (or 21 July local Australian time), the OTC team were at their posts, ready for anything.

Anything, including a change in the schedule that took everyone by surprise.

Tags: networks,