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Telstra CTO admits operator is pushing its LTE in preparation for 5G

The CTO of Australian incumbent Telstra has admitted that the telecommunications firm is pushing its gigabit LTE to maximize the most of its existing 4G network as it prepares for the forthcoming 5G era. Hakan Eriksson, CTO, said the primary objective behind Telstra's strategy is to improve 4G as much as possible in order to be properly prepared for the introduction of 5G technology.

He said: "In principle, the idea is to improve 4G as much as you can and be ready to introduce 5G when it becomes available, but don't wait for 5G, regardless if it's for high bit rate or Internet of Things applications. You can still do a lot with 4G."

Eriksson emphasized the speed the consumer will receive and added that the fascinating aspect of this push on LTE is that it doesn't really matter if it's over a 4G network or a 5G network.  According to Telstra's CTO, whilst 4G technology was initially utilized as a mainstream technology, it has now evolved and shifted paths into segmented NB-IoT applications. Eriksson added: "LTE is very flexible, from gigabits all the way down to kilobits."

It was further disclosed, that Australia's leading mobile operator had the required spectrum for carrier aggregation across multiple bands to enable gigabit speeds. Telstra demonstrated this with Swedish telecommunications conglomerate Ericsson, US chipmaker Qualcomm and Net-Gear in January.

Telstra has subsequently deployed gigabit LTE in some of the country's largest cities, although it did disclose that the service only runs on mobile Wi-Fi (Mi-Fi devices as smartphones currently don't support the technology required). Ericsson conducted 5G tests in September last year, and revealed that it is planning additional tests next year as specifications become more mature.