Telstra rumored to award $470m deal to Ericsson

Caroline Gabriel/Rethink Wireless
25 Jan 2011

Ericsson is reported to have won a deal worth $470m with Australian incumbent Telstra, recognized as the most advanced carrier in the world in deploying HSPA+ technologies.

This would be a significant boost for the Swedish vendor, which has seen its share of the business at the largest Australian carrier eroded recently.

Telstra selected Ericsson for the first phase of its 'Next G' modernization and expansion program, begun in 2005, which has given the telco the fastest HSPA+ network in the market.

The operator plans to boost speeds to 84Mbps and beyond from next year, extend coverage, and start to introduce LTE in key areas.

All this will rely heavily on flexible base stations which can support more than one standard and give Telstra the option to mix and match 3G+ and 4G technologies.

The new phase of Next G is understood to be worth A$473 million ($469 million) and would include RAN and backhaul equipment. Neither side confirmed that the deal had yet been finalized.

Last year, Ericsson's position in Next G was questioned when it lost out to Nokia Siemens for a $400 million optical transmission contract, as part of the National Broadband Network program.

It also lost out to NSN at the other major cellco, VHA (a Vodafone-Hutchison venture), where it was an incumbent supplier. NSN picked up a giant network management contract there, though Ericsson did win in backhaul.

Telstra is currently rolling out 42Mbps HSPA+ systems and plans to go to 84Mbps in the coming 6-12 months too.

In late 2009, it became the first operator in the world to test HSPA+ Dual Carrier technology outside a vendor lab, on a closed portion of its Next G network, using equipment from Ericsson and Qualcomm's MDM8220 chipset.

The operator went live with 'Next G' in October 2006, introducing HSPA with peak download rate of 3.6Mbps, and then progressing to 14.4Mbps and, early last year, 21Mbps HSPA+.

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