Australian telecommunications operator Telstra, together with Ericsson, has launched the world’s first all-IP combined core network to carry not only data for its new LTE network, but also its existing 2G and 3G traffic.
Ericsson’s Evolved Packet Core (EPC) technology, which powers the system, allows mobile broadband traffic to be seamlessly handled across Telstra’s GSM, WCDMA/HSPA and LTE networks, resulting in what the company says will be an “improved mobile broadband experience for consumers.”
“This is the complete network solution that we envisioned over 5 years ago,” said Mike Wright, Telstra's Executive Director of Network and Access Technologies, “a common and efficient core network supporting traffic from any source across our evolving GSM, WCDMA and LTE access networks.”
4G Mobile Broadband
This move follows Telstra’s launch of its USB 4G mobile broadband modem last month. The operator has said it will provide LTE (long-term evolution) coverage in business districts in the capital Canberra and in 30 other regional and metropolitan centers. It plans to add 50 more locations to its 4G coverage list by the end of the year.
With its new service, Telstra promises download speeds ranging from 2 Mbps to 40 Mbps and upload speeds of 1 Mbps to 10 Mbps. The 4G modem can also switch to 3G networks when the faster LTE service is not available.
As well as providing a significant speed increase compared to existing networks, the LTE service will also improve the performance of such applications as video conferring and online gaming by reducing latency in the network.
4G-Ready Handsets in 2012 – and Plenty of Data from Dongles Now
Telstra is working with mobile telephone manufacturers to bring 4G-ready handsets to market in 2012. For the moment, the company is seeing more a benefit from LTE for laptop users than for smartphones.
"The megabytes on our network [are] more coming from dongles than smartphones at the moment," said Warwick Bray, Telstra’s Executive Director of Mobile.
Key Statistics – Global Mobile Broadband Connectivity Market (source: Berg Insight)
- The total number of external mobile broadband devices shipped worldwide in 2010 is estimated to have been nearly 93 million, with 27.4 million units sold in Europe and 8.5 million units in North America.
- In Europe, HSPA now accounts for more than 20% of the total number of broadband connections, putting the region ahead of North America where just over 13% of all broadband connections are made over HSPA/LTE.
- Huawei is the world’s largest vendor of mobile broadband terminals, accounting for 49% of the market compared to 31% for the second largest supplier ZTE.