Telstra is taking steps to prepare its mobile core network to underpin 5G services by deploying a set of undisclosed network function virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies.
Group managing director for networks Mike Wright said in a blog post the upgrades were necessary to enable support for emerging network constructs such as "network slicing".
Slicing is a concept by networking vendor Ericsson whereby a physical network can be divided into logical slices and targeted at specific segments or use cases. For example, one "slice" might be used to serve mobile broadband users, and another "slice" put to work serving IoT environments.
Wright said slicing would allow Telstra "to support increased network configuration and deployment flexibility to different market segments, and to tailor their wireless connectivity".
The core upgrades come as Telstra prepares to expand its testing of 5G technologies ahead of production network trials slated for 2018.
Telstra engineers recently completed a six-month secondment to Ericsson’s research lab in Sweden.
The carrier is now gearing up to be the first telco in Australia to make use of an Ericsson 5G radio testbed. Eight Asian operators are performing similar trials.
"We’ll be running a demonstration in September that will look at 5G capabilities in a real world environment," Wright said.
"We’ll be testing the expected high speeds and ultra-low latency, as well as multi-user MIMO (multiple input multiple output), where multiple antennas carry data to and from the end user.
"The demonstration will also test beam steering technology, where the beam steering antenna array tracks your location and directs a mobile signal straight to your device rather than sending it out in all directions or to a particular sector as it does today."
The telco reiterated plans to deploy 5G technologies to select parts of its mobile network on the Gold Coast during the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with a commercial launch planned in 2020.