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Tag: networks

Small cells bringing fast mobile coverage to where it’s needed most

Network

Posted on April 15, 2019

5 min read


‘Small cells’ are an important part of our mobile network, providing additional capacity in busy cities and metropolitan areas without the visual impact of a full mobile base station. They also enhance mobile coverage in regional and rural areas, often at a fraction of the cost of a mobile tower while still providing effective service to where it’s needed.

Small cells, sometimes referred to as ‘mini base stations’, are small enough that you might have already seen one in the suburbs around you without realising – they’re generally made up of one or two small antennas and a small equipment cabinet, typically installed on existing infrastructure like light poles, bus shelters, advertising billboards or payphone cabinets.

Because they’re compact and unobtrusive, small cells can be installed where a large tower or antenna might not be suitable. They typically provide mobile coverage to an area of around 200 to 400 metres from the cell itself, meaning they can be installed discreetly in busy commercial areas and suburbs without causing a significant visual impact.

We’re all using more data than ever on our mobile devices, and more devices of all kinds are being connected to our network every day. Small cells help us maintain the best performing network for you, and to meet the future data and connectivity demand that technologies like 5G will bring with them.

In our cities and suburbs, we’ve used small cells for years – since the 2G era, more than 25 years ago – to help handle the ever-increasing demand for mobile coverage and capacity. A small cell on a telegraph pole or street light helps to extend 4G coverage into a nearby apartment block, and small cells at city intersections manage the data demands of the thousands of workers that stream past on weekday mornings and afternoons.

We’ve installed small cells in many metropolitan areas, but also in regional and rural locations where it’s not feasible to construct a mobile base station. At Adventure Bay on Bruny Island off the coast of Tasmania, for example, we’ve installed a small cell at the beach to allow visitors to share pictures and videos on social media, as well as to make calls and send messages to friends and family around the world.

In the most remote areas of Australia, we even use small cells connected to satellite backhaul to bridge the coverage gap – bringing mobile connectivity to areas that have never had coverage before and that do not have the fibre infrastructure in place to suit a mobile base station installation. A satellite small cell already helps connect the town of Winton in Queensland – a sheep and cattle industry hotspot for the Central West region, as well as Australia’s ‘dinosaur capital’ – to the world.

Are small cells safe?

We’ve done extensive testing on electromagnetic energy (EME) around small cell installations, using independent accredited EME assessors, to fully answer this important question. Small cells use low power levels and are designed to comply with Australia’s mandatory EME safety standards, and our testing shows that EME levels near small cells are very low – far below EME safety limits, which themselves have a significant safety margin built in.

Using the example of a small cell in a metropolitan area providing extra mobile coverage and capacity to local homes and businesses as an example, our independent testing shows EME levels that are less than 0.2% of the EME safety limits – more than 500 times below the mandatory safe levels. Standing directly under a small cell on a street light pole produced the same result of less than 0.2% of the EME safety limits.

Even when a small cell is loaded with traffic in a busy area, EME levels are still very low and far within EME safety limits. We tested a small cell installed in a conference centre, and even at a close distance of two metres from the cell itself EME levels were more than 50 times below safe EME limits.

All small cells are specifically designed for the locations they are installed in. While we currently only use small cells for 4G network technology, we will use a range of different base station types including small cells for our ongoing 5G network roll-out. We only use small cells that meet the mandatory EME safety limits, and our independent testing shows real-world EME levels far, far below those safety thresholds.

Small cells give us a great, safe way to extend our 4G network coverage and capacity, including into areas around Australia that have never had mobile coverage before. For more information on our EME community advice, you can head to our Understanding EME website.

What we need to get right as 5G dawns

Network

Posted on April 9, 2019

3 min read

In just nine short months, we will find ourselves at the dawn of the 2020s. We’re already at the dawn of 5G and the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution. But to succeed in these times of great change Australia needs policy settings that are well crafted, support competition, encourage investment and protect customers, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn told the CommsDay Summit in Sydney today.

Mr Penn told Summit delegates telecommunications were fast becoming the most critical category of infrastructure in the world today. He said all telecommunications technologies – mobile and fixed, 4G and 5G, fibre and copper, HFC and fixed wireless, satellite and radio – had a role to play in meeting the huge growth in demand for coverage, capacity and speed.

Also critical was having the right policy setting in place to promote innovation and investment, he said.

“We absolutely need the right policy settings to promote investment, innovation, competition, safety and security and most importantly to protect customers and ensure digital inclusion,” Mr Penn said.

“High-quality telecommunications networks require an incredible amount of capital investment. There is no point in application developers or managed services providers investing in great products and services if network providers do not have the incentive to invest.

“Capital as a percentage of sales in the industry has been gradually creeping up globally over the last 15 years as the industry copes with the insatiable demand for more data, speed, coverage and resiliency. It is estimated that globally the mobile industry will invest almost half a trillion dollars between 2018 and 2020 on just preparing for and rolling out 5G.”

Mr Penn said the telecommunications industry has spent more than $36 billion on capex over the last three years but the return on that investment was dropping. He said recent PwC research found the return on invested capital had dropped from 12% in 2012 to just 7% in 2016.

“The NBN has obviously been a big contributor to this investment, but in fact more than half of it is actually coming from operators such as Telstra. We will invest in the order of $4bn alone this year,” Mr Penn said.

“However, at the same time capex is increasing, returns in the industry on that capex are reducing. This is unsustainable, as ultimately it will hurt investment capacity within the industry and lead to a degradation in the quality of networks.”

Mr Penn said the dawn of 5G meant a completely different scale of connectivity and this made it an important inflection point for the sector as the challenges, opportunities and complexities became increasingly clear, not just for industry but for government and regulators.

“With telecommunications becoming the world’s most important infrastructure there is a lot we need to get right in making sure our policies and regulations are well crafted, support competition, encourage investment and protect customers,” Mr Penn said.

“Done badly, even where policy has consumers’ best interests at heart, it is the consumers who suffer the most through higher costs and less responsiveness to their changing needs.

“Done well however, I believe we have an incredibly exciting future ahead, and we all have a role to play. And together I am certain we will deliver for the benefit of all Australians.”

You can read CEO Andrew Penn’s keynote address to the CommsDay Summit 2019 here.

Tags: 5g, networks,

Switching on our 10,000th mobile network site in Toowoomba

Network 5G

Posted on March 19, 2019

3 min read

We turned on our 10,000th mobile network site today in Toowoomba, Queensland. The site will not only provide better coverage to our customers in the area but it is also a milestone achievement for us; one that represents our commitment to offer connectivity to as many Australians as possible.


Telstra – then Telecom – launched 1G in Sydney back in 1987 with just 14 base stations. Today, the Telstra Mobile Network covers more than 2.5 million square kilometres – vastly more than any other mobile network in Australia – and offers coverage to 99.5 per cent of the Australian population.

We have come a long way.

Not only is our network getting bigger, it is getting faster and smarter. The new base station in Toowoomba includes the very latest technology as part of our 5G program.

We’ve been able to successfully connect the LG V50 ThinQ to our 5G network.

Since passing 200 5G-enabled sites at the end of last year, our roll-out of 5G has continued in the major city CBDs with the plans to extend to a 2-kilometre radius of coverage from each city centre.

Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth CBD roll-outs are already well progressed, as are Launceston and Hobart, and we are in the process of extending coverage in the CBDs of Sydney (including some coverage in Parramatta CBD) and Melbourne as we work towards the launch of our first 5G mobile devices.

Toowoomba has been at the heart of this – as the first regional centre where we introduced 5G capability. Indeed, with more than 100 5G mobile sties now installed in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Toowoomba – and with the region playing host to our 5G Innovation Centre (where a number of 5G world firsts were achieved) as well as our first 5G customer trial – Queensland could be considered the 5G capital of the world.

Our network coverage milestones

1987: Telecom, now Telstra, launches 1G (AMPS) in Sydney and Melbourne.
1993: Telstra launches 2G.
2006: Telstra launches 3G.
2010: Telstra connects its 7000th base station.
2011: Telstra is the first operator in Australia to commercially launch 4G LTE.
2012: Telstra switches on its 1000th 4G site.
2013: Telstra’s 4G coverage reaches more than 85% of the Australian population, including 300 regional towns.
2015: Telstra’s mobile network coverage passes 2.4 million square kilometres, reaching 94% of the Australian population.
2017: Telstra’s 4G coverage extends to 99% of the Australian population and more than 1.4 million square kilometres. It is also announced that Cat M1 compatibility across the entire 4GX footprint has been switched on.
2018: Telstra Mobile Network coverage passes more than 2.5 million square kilometres. 4GX is made available to over 99% of the Australian population and Telstra commences its 5G roll-out, with over 200 5G-enabled mobile sites completed by 31 December 2018.
2019: Telstra connects its 10,000th mobile network site.

Tags: 5g, networks,

Why AI is good for us, and good for business

Tech and Innovation

Posted on March 1, 2019

3 min read

Not a day goes by without a headline about artificial intelligence, or AI. Whether it’s another breakthrough in capability, a prediction about big economic changes, or even killer robots and impending doom – we are fascinated by what this technology may hold.

I am a technology optimist, and after decades of working with technology companies in Australia, Europe and the US, I can see huge potential in AI.

There are many types of work that AI might always struggle with, particularly where instinct, experience and inference matter most.

However, there is one area in which it can clearly make a huge difference – putting our overwhelming amounts of data to good use.

Data growth, AI and IoT

Look at almost any part of our economy – healthcare, transport, logistics, agriculture, education or engineering – and you’ll see that we measure, monitor, video and track more things than ever before. The boom in Internet of Things (IoT) means sensors and other low-power gadgets are being used in huge and increasing quantities. For instance, we can monitor the location, performance and the condition of drivers and cargo in every truck on our roads. Or monitor and manage precious natural resources like fresh drinking water.

This has created a tsunami of data and the volume will increase exponentially as technologies like 5G and cloud computing become commonplace. With more data than people know what to do with, AI’s enormous analytical capacity can deliver insights and help us make good decisions.

Why AI is good for us, and good for business

AI capability on a reliable network

But before AI can help, all this data needs to travel across a network from where it is collected to where it is analysed and acted on. And the larger, safer and more reliable and more capacity a network has, the better. Luckily, this is what Telstra is famous for. Our Narrowband-IoT network provides more than 3.5 million square kilometres of coverage for NBIoT sensors and devices. Our mobile network connects around 18 million phones, tables and other services. And our international subsea cable network stretches for more than 400,000 km, carrying about one-third of all internet traffic in the Asia Pacific region.

To make sure our networks can run smoothly, we constantly monitor its performance. This generates a huge amount of data – 151 terabytes each day, or at least a terabyte of data every 10 minutes! This volume of data will grow over time as more people and devices are connected.

Our Next Gen Operations Support System already parses, enriches and analyses this ocean of data to provide actionable intelligence and insight into the current health of the entire network. Our ambition is to create an even smarter network, one that can use AI to make decisions to avoid failures before they happen, self-heal in order to keep the network stable, and present people with the data visualisation and recommendations on the most complex and critical problems.

The challenge of our digital age is that we can see plenty of problems, and we are collecting an ocean of data about them, but human capacity alone cannot deliver the solution. In short, these are the perfect challenges for AI to help us solve.

Launching our global IoT capability with Ericsson

Business and Enterprise

Posted on February 25, 2019

2 min read

We’ve announced a partnership with Ericsson to deliver our Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to global enterprises, by integrating Connectivity Management services from Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator solution (previously Device Connection Platform) with our own IoT solution and world-class mobile network. This means our customers will be able to deploy and manage IoT devices globally and at massive scale.

From March 30, our enterprise customers will be able to manage, access and track their linked IoT devices and assets at a local, national, or global level – bringing together more than 20 operators from over 100 countries in a unified view of devices and networks.

This extensive IoT access relies on the extensive Narrowband IoT and Cat M1 technology that we rolled out across our 4GX mobile networks, as one of the first carriers in the world to do so in September 2018. We now have over 3.5 million square kilometres of IoT coverage across our network, with support for IoT data connections from a distance of up to 100km from a mobile base station – 60km more than the 3GPP standards-based limits.

There will be support for eSIM (eUICC) capabilities via the connectivity management service from IoT Accelerator solution and other technologies that will allow global enterprise customers and OEMs to deploy their products and services more easily on Telstra’s network, allowing end users to enjoy the benefits of Telstra’s network capabilities on a local SIM profile.

With the ever-increasing expansion of the IoT market, our partnership with Ericsson will offer our customers an easier way to manage and scale connected devices and applications – and with our combination of NB IoT and Cat M1 technology, international enterprises across a range of industries will have international IoT connectivity solutions.

We’re demonstrating our extended-range Narrowband IoT capability at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona alongside Ericsson this week, and we look forward to enabling this new wave of IoT connectivity for our enterprise partners soon.

Tags: IoT, mwc, MWC 2019, networks,