Telstra is one of the world leaders when it comes to leading edge network technology. We hear from its CTO Hugh Bradlow on what it’s been doing on LTE Advanced and what its plans for the future are in technologies such as LTE Broadcast. To hear more from Hugh Bradlow on this subject, sign up to the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands.
What’s the latest on Telstra’s LTE network? For example, at what stage are your plans for LTE Advanced and VoLTE?
Telstra has been amongst the world leaders in pushing LTE-Advanced. We have done a number of trials on our network of carrier aggregation, including a world first in May this year in aggregating three 2x20MHz FDD bands between 1,800MHz (1 band) and 2,600MHz (2 bands) to achieve live network speeds of 450Mbps. We have also tested carrier aggregation across the 700MHz and 1,800MHz bands. We continue to evaluate the use of VoLTE in our network but at this stage, do not see any compelling reason to deploy it urgently.
What plans do you have for NFV and SDN?
At this stage, we are evaluating various aspects of SDN and NFV in the data centre, CPE and network. We are conducting confidential vendor trials and are not in a position to disclose further information at this stage.
The IoT is coming – smart devices of all sorts are cropping up. What are the most interesting things you’ve seen – and how will it affect the network in the next five years?
IoT covers many aspects including M2M, connected home, wearables, smart cities and other industry verticals. To date we have seen interesting developments in smart cities (e.g. smart parking to reduce urban congestion and driver frustration), connected home (e.g. DIY security), and various verticals (e.g. workforce management using location services, such as we use for our own workforce). While the wearables space has thrown up some interesting opportunities (e.g. a baby “onesy” with measurements such as heart rate, breathing and position), the consumer proposition has yet to mature.
The IoT has impacts the network in two dramatic ways:
(a) the sheer volume of devices will create a significant signalling load;
(b) most IoT devices will not use cellular air interfaces so the network needs to provide support for multiple radio systems.
Some are already talking about 5G? Is it in your thinking at all right now?
This is early days and we are working with the NGMN carrier group to define the requirements for 5G. One thing is clear – it is more than just “hero” experiments on higher speed air interfaces, as the 5G network will need to encompass multiple services including IoT, emergency services, content distribution, etc. and support significantly higher network capacities. The technology decisions for 5G will need to wait until the industry is clear on the requirements.
Your talk at the LTE World Summit is on eMBMS, which has been supported since Release 9. Why is now the right time for the industry to get excited about the technology?
Actually even before eMBMS, there was iMB, of which we were strong supporters. The reason why eMBMS is becoming increasingly important is an evolving consumer demand and a continuous development in functionality. From a demand perspective, while consumer video viewing patterns are clearly shifting to on-demand viewing, there are some circumstances where no amount of network capacity can support demand (e.g. major live sporting events and replays in a big stadium). There are also other common demand creators such as software updates.
At the same time, there is still a great deal of live video viewing and also non-video events such as software updates, which are common to many millions of users. The combination of all these factors, plus a maturing of the eMBMS ecosystem (in terms of network support and handset capability) means that it is becoming close to a reality.
As an example of handset support, the ability of handsets to cache an increasing amount of content means that you can also record live TV and time shift it on the handset.
The 10th annual LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.