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42MPS Telstra Wireless Will Need 3 Antenna Card

Telstra will soon begin trials of 4G HSPA-plus technology aimed at upgrading its Next G network to speeds of up to 42 megabits per second, chief technology officer Hugh Bradlow confirmed at yesterdays Broadband and Beyond conference in Sydney.

And even faster Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology at up to 100Mbps is likely to follow, he said, making it possible for Telstra to offer high-quality full-length movie downloads and other multimedia content direct to mobile phones.

Next G’s current HSPA (high-speed packet access) technology tops out at 7.2Mbps. Previous international statements on HSPA+ have suggested a likely top speed of 28Mbps  Bradlow’s is the first CDN has seen claiming 42Mbps.

HSPA+ technology is designed to offer higher throughput by using multiple antennas on both base stations and handsets  another example of MIMO, or multiple input multiple output as it’s called in the Wi-Fi world, where it’s
used in the latest 802.11n platform.

Subscribers will need to ante up for a completely new range of HSPA+ handsets. Telstra would need to make a considerable investment in HSPA+ equipment.

Other mobile operators are likely to join the move to HSPA+. An announcement by chipmaker Qualcomm in early February, not picked up by the mainstream Australian press, said it would be running international trials on HSPA+ in 2008 with operators “including Hutchison 3G, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telstra”.

Qualcomm quoted Mike Wright, Telstra executive director wireless, as saying: “We are committed to commencing the introduction of HSPA+ later this year.”

The Hutchison and Vodafone trials are being conducted in Britain, but if successful, an Australian rollout by the local subsidiaries of these operators, both of which now offer HSDPA, seems likely to follow Telstra.

However Bradlow noted that so far Telstra is the only Australian operator offering HSPA right across its network. The other operators are limited to no more than 50 percent of their networks, he claimed. (Vodafone now offers HSPA 3G services only in Melbourne and Sydney metro areas and international airports, but has announced plans to widen coverage this year).

Bradlow made it plain HSPA+ would just be a stepping-stone for Next G. Some time after its introduction, “Next G will move to LTE. HSPA 4G will take us to 42Mbps, LTE to 100Mbps as we go forward”, he told the conference

Looking at other trends in mobile telecommunications, Bradlow predicted dramatic progress in screen technology, preparing the way for spectacles that project Internet images directly on to the retina; mobiles that can act as projectors; and five-megapixel digital cameras with “liquid lenses” to deliver very high-quality images at low cost.

The Broadband and Beyond conference, which continues at the Shangri-La Hotel today, has been organised by Telstra Wholesale and the Communications Alliance, an umbrella group for the industry.  ­ David Frith