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Telstra Readies 21-Mbps Wireless Network Down Under

The extensive high-speed eHSPA wireless network was helped by partners Ericsson, Qualcomm and Sierra Wireless.

Infrastructure provider Telstra this week began installing an extensive high-speed wireless network (21 Mbps and 2 million square kilometers) and expects the project to be available by the end of the year to millions of subscribers.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to use it unless you can travel to Australia. The 3G network, which Telstra calls "Next G," relies on current technologies along with eHSPA network enhancements.

"Our Next G network is the largest and fastest national mobile broadband network in the world," said Telstra's chief executive officer Sol Trujillo in an e-mail Wednesday. "It has a network footprint covering 99% of the Australian population."

What's particularly interesting about the Next G network is that it was assembled quickly and involved a wholesale reengineering involving switching from a CDMA network to an 850-MHz network. Cooperating in the rapid build out of the network were the usual suspects of wireless networking: Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Sierra Wireless.

Qualcomm contributed its MDM8200 chipset to the Enhanced HSPA (eHSPA) network equipment, and the technology was thoroughly tested by Ericsson in Sweden before it was integrated in Australia. Sierra Wireless supplied an assortment of wireless broadband cards, USBs, modems, and modules.

Asked why Next G didn't utilize WiMax, the wide area network technology that is rolling out in several countries around the world, Trujillo indicated WiMax isn't needed because Telstra's 850-MHz network has up to four times the range of the 2.3-GHz to 5-GHz frequency bands used in WiMax networks.

Telstra is betting that Next G will open up a whole new world of wireless use by subscribers who want to work away from their offices and use Web conferencing, live high-definition streaming video, high-speed Web browsing, and seamless virtual private network access.

"For consumers, it means access to a whole new world of Internet-hosted mobile applications and the mainstream adoption of the mobile phone as the preferred way to access and browse the Internet and e-mail in Australia," said Mike Wright, executive director of Telstra's Wireless Engineering and Operations unit, in a statement.

Telstra has worked to make Next G user friendly. Its "1-click, 1-touch, 1-command, any-screen, real-time experience" was formulated in 2005 and the company has labored to make the user-friendly approach a reality.

Microsoft has taken notice. Chief executive Steve Ballmer outlined some future plans for the Telstra network in a visit to Melbourne last month. Telstra has developed "1-click" access for a new Windows Mobile interface. The strategic Telstra-Microsoft alliance will provide corporate-grade business applications complete with mobile e-mail, calendar, contacts, Web browser, and phone solutions, the companies have said.

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