Australian carrier Telstra has upgraded its 5G radio access network (RAN) coverage footprint across Australia, connecting a cloud-native 5G Core (5GC) network to handle new 5G standalone traffic.
Telstra used equipment from Swedish vendor Ericsson for the network upgrade.
The 5G upgrade means that Telstra already has the capability to run 5G technology independent of existing 4G network technology. 5G SA devices are expected to be commercially available in Australia in late 2020.
Nikos Katinakis, Telstra’s group executive for networks and IT, said Telstra was the first communications service provider in Australia and one of the first in the world to reach the 5G end-to-end standalone capability milestone.
“Getting the Telstra mobile network to be 5G standalone-ready is an important step towards unleashing greater capabilities for enterprises and consumers alike. Working together with our technology partner Ericsson, our new 5G service-based architecture will allow us to create innovative new services and solutions and deliver these much quicker than in the past,” he said.
“5G New Radio standalone and 5G core is the next evolution in architecture for 5G networks, which will help to increase network efficiency and drive new uses, particularly for Industry 4.0. We’re pleased to be working with Telstra to ensure Australians have access to this leading technology, that will ultimately drive new innovation and industries,” said Emilio Romeo, head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand.
Ericsson and Telstra partnered to achieve Australia’s first end to end 5G standalone call in July 2019.
Telstra’s 5G network already provides coverage to selected areas in 32 major and regional cities and remains on track to deliver 5G into 35 cities by mid-2020. The telco is currently using its spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band to provide 5G technology across Australia.
In March, Telstra announced plans to allow customers early trial access to millimeter wave 5G spectrum with the launch of a mmWave 5G-enabled device by mid-year.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said internal testing of the technology had begun and work was underway to roll out trial mobile sites in selected areas ahead of an expected auction of mmWave spectrum in 2021.
Telstra customers’ early access to the next-generation 5G technology will be in selected areas initially. It will be made possible through ACMA 26 GHz scientific licenses that can be used for trials ahead of the spectrum auction early next year.
Rival operator Optus had launched commercial mobile 5G operations in 2019, while Vodafone Hutchison Australia is still in the process of deploying its 5G network.