Telstra To Add A 900MHz 4G Network

Australia is about to get its first 900MHz 4G network with the announcement this morning that Telstra is set to add the frequency band into its existing 4G network offerings to complement the 1800MHz spectrum it already has. What does this mean for you though? Less congestion for a start.

Telstra announced plans to add the 900MHz spectrum in parallel to its current 1800MHz offering today at a network briefing.

The 900MHz part of the network will be used to improve coverage in rural areas, while improving what Telstra is calling “depth”. Presumably that means in-building signal penetration.

Telstra plans to issue 4G device firmware updates where applicable to make hardware compatible with the new 900MHz network spectrum, while the telco works with Sierra Wireless as a hardware partner to issue a dedicated 900MHz device around the middle of the year. Devices like the Nokia Lumia 920 are already 900MHz-ready, while the BlackBerry Z10 and the Sony Xperia Z — coming soon — will be 900MHz ready out of the box, too.

Also on the 4G network, Telstra added that it would start trialling network technologies known as LTE-A (or LTE Advanced) and LTE-B (or LTE Broadcast). These are two technologies that Telstra is experimenting with for a future deployment, with the telco’s network execs saying that the company needed to understand these specifications for when they might be needed in future.

LTE-A is a system that lets the telco combine both 1800MHz and 900MHz spectrum to create one network stream. When someone moves deeper into a rural area, they shift from being on the larger spectrum over to the 900MHz spectrum to ensure consistent coverage.

LTE-B, meanwhile, is designed for more effective video and media deployment around the network so that people watching or using media content doesn’t create a whole mess of congestion. Imagine for a moment 500 people all watching the same broadcast of a sports game over the 4G network on the same radio base station. With ordinary LTE, all of those users would be crushed under their own weight. On LTE-B, however, content is pushed to the tower to turn it into a broadcast-style system where the users would hook onto the one stream rather than consuming all of the tower’s network capacity. Telstra said this would have benefits for not just media broadcasts, but also machine-to-machine communications as well as files that need to be downloaded by a lot of folks at once.

Telstra also plans to bust congestion in the cities on its networks by rolling out smaller cell networks called Heterogenous Networks, or HetNets. These so-called HetNets will be used to deploy more coverage to densely populated areas and large events. No more lunch breaks where networks say they give you full signal but time-out on data? Yes please.

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