Telstra will launch LTE services in the 1800MHz band by the end of this year, and will stick with current supplier Ericsson to roll it out.
Telstra CEO David Thodey said Monday that Telstra will roll out LTE 1800 primarily in CBD areas as a high-capacity complement integrated with its DC-HSPA+ network “by the end of 2011”.
The rollout plan is similar to the LTE strategy of Telstra-owned Hong Kong cellco CSL, which launched LTE in November. LTE will serve high-traffic areas and users equipped with dual-mode dongles will fall back to DC-HSPA+, with download speeds of 42 Mbps, when they’re outside the LTE coverage area.
Sierra Wireless will provide the dongle, which will support LTE 1800 and DC-HSPA+ in the 850-MHz band.
Telstra’s LTE strategy also puts an emphasis on customer experience over data speeds, said Thodey.
“The experience is more important, because with LTE you have better latency, which enables things like HD video calls,” he said during a press conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “We already have 42 Mbps speeds in the CBDs with DC-HSPA+, so by upgrading those to LTE we can push DC-HSPA+ further out in the network.”
Thodey said the rollout was within Telstra’s existing capex budget for the next three years, and that LTE 1800 would be rolled out using existing base station sites, with no new sites added.
Telstra is one of the few cellcos to commit to refarming 1800MHz spectrum for LTE. To date, only CSL and Poland’s Mobyland have deployed LTE 1800, using equipment from ZTE and Huawei Technologies, respectively.
Huawei had been in the running for the rollout, as had Nokia Siemens Networks, since May 2010. A Telstra spokesperson said that Ericsson’s solution was “the most compatible” with its existing network.