Telstra has significantly enlarged its range of 5G transmissions with a 100km mid-band extension through South Australia.
The telecommunications leader completed a 100-kilometre long-range 5G data call on a mid-band Time Division Duplex (TDD) Advanced Antenna System (AAS) radio in a live commercial network.
The call was conducted at Burra in South Australia, known for its use on the album cover of Midnight Oil’s ‘Diesel and Dust’.
According to Telstra, the call used an unspecified new software feature that extends the maximum cell range from 15 kilometres out to 100 kilometres.
Unveiled during Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the extended range feature will enable Telstra to broaden the 5G Massive MIMO AAS radios to more rural and regional areas.
Two models of Samsung handsets were used in the long-range testing: a Samsung A53 using a Samsung LSI Exynos chipset and a Samsung A13 using a MediaTek chipset.
Telstra admitted that situations allowing a full 100-kilometre extension will be limited but said that there “will be many areas in regional/rural Australia where effective 5G coverage will now reach well beyond 15km meaning more 5G coverage in more places”.
Telstra said it will selectively enable this long-range capability where it can provide a coverage benefit based on each mobile site’s local requirements and environment. Once testing is complete, and based on device dependencies, it is expected selective field deployments will start later in 2023.
“We have a responsibility to deliver the very best connectivity to regional customers including the benefits and the experience of 5G,” said Nikos Katinakis, Telstra group executive of global network and technology.
“We’re working hard and making sure we invest in the world’s best technology to make sure all Australians have access to the largest and most reliable network now and in the future. This world-first achievement is just one of the ways we are committed to improving coverage over time.”
Telstra and Ericsson have worked together on 5G deployments for several years, deploying in 2017 what they claimed was the world’s first 5G trial data call over 26GHz radiofrequency spectrum, known as ‘mmWave’, using the telco’s production core network.
“Once again Telstra and Ericsson are leading the industry to extend the reach of new mobile technologies. This milestone is another example of how we’re innovating to deliver connectivity to more Australians,” added Emilio Romeo, head of Ericsson, Australia and New Zealand.
In 2021, Telstra teamed up with Microsoft and Ericsson to build and deploy a 5G-enabled edge computing solution for enterprises.
Named Branch Offload, the infrastructure-as-a-service solution (IaaS) extends private connectivity and cloud services to the network edge.
Last year, Telstra deployed an Ericsson-based private 5G network for not-for-profit AgriFood Connect to offer both Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G Standalone (SA) connectivity at the same time.