Telstra to roll out 'world's fastest' wireless network

SYDNEY - Telstra will roll out what is says is the world's fastest wireless broadband network, in Australia over the next two months.

Chief executive Sol Trujillo announced that Telstra will be increasing the maximum speed of its Next G mobile network to 21 megabits per second (Mbps) for business customers, starting on February 23, from the current maximum of 14.4 Mbps.

Telstra, Australia's biggest telecommunications company, says the faster speed will be gradually rolled out for all business customers through March and then made available to consumer customers in April.

Mr Trujillo said Telstra would increase the speed to 42 Mbps towards the end of 2009 and in early 2010.

"Everything changes when you can do things faster," Mr Trujillo told journalists.

"We will again keep Australia ... ahead of the world by enabling this capability."

A faster network increases the products and services that Telstra can offer its customers, and also allows Telstra to handle traffic on its network more efficiently, a benefit to the company even if users don't upgrade.

Mr Trujillo said customers would probably experience speeds two to three times faster than what were available now, depending on network conditions.

The new speeds will widen the gap with Telstra's rival mobile operators, Optus and the now-merging Vodafone and Hutchison, which operate maximum speeds of 3.6 Mpbs.

However, Telstra's services cost more than double its rivals, with a 1 gigabyte (GB) pack costing A$59 ($75) a month. Optus offers 6GB for $59.99 and Vodafone offers 5GB for A$39.95.

Telstra said it had the equipment available that would allow customers to take advantage of the faster speeds, with US-based Qualcomm producing chips, Sweden's Ericsson building the transmission equipment and Canada's Sierra Wireless producing the receiving devices, such as data cards and dongles.

"We have the ecosystem lined up," Mr Trujillo said.

"You have to show leadership and that's what we have been doing by changing this whole game around what a real high-speed wireless broadband world looks like."

The equipment that can take advantage of 21 Mbps would be about three times faster than the fastest devices currently available, Mr Trujillo said.

Mr Trujillo said the equipment makers benefited from partnering with Telstra as they could develop equipment for Telstra and see how it worked when deployed under commercial operating conditions.

Handsets that could take advantage of the faster speeds would become available towards the end of 2009 as the manufacturers release them.

- AAP


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