LIVE FROM MWL UNWRAPPED: Network experts from Australian operator Telstra and US player AT&T highlighted the advantages of using mmWave for 5G in very crowded areas such as stadia, with the former also backing its wider use within large cities.  

Telstra's Iskra Nikolova speaking at Unwrapped

During the morning keynote, Telstra network and infrastructure executive Iskra Nikolova (pictured, left) explained the company had used small cells for the band in Sydney and Melbourne, with coverage extended using repeaters.

She noted the deployments had provided very high speeds and were targeted at areas with large population densities, such as central business districts and large venues like the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which has a capacity of 100,000 people.  

Nikolova said “mmWave is an integral part of 5G for us,” endorsing it for “where we expect significant demand on capacity”.

The executive explained Telstra used repeaters to extend coverage “to kilometres”, though noted there were still some issues to be addressed to continue extending use of the technology.

“We are dependent on the ecosystem,” she said, highlighting a requirement for collaboration and to extend the number of devices supporting the band.

Later in the session, AT&T assistant VP for RAN technology Adam Loddeke (pictured, left) said its deployment had been “really focused on capacity hotspots”.

“Anywhere where there’s a high density of people and it’s relatively slow moving traffic for the most part,” he explained. “So we’re really focused on stadiums and airport locations to provide that mmWave incremental service for 5G.”

He added although AT&T had not widely deployed in cities across the US, “there are some specific use cases a company might require the speeds of mmWave, but it’s predominantly in the street furniture outdoor environment and in the indoor space for us”.

Pointing to the role of the frequency as part of a wider 5G spectrum portfolio, he noted: “We’ve got many bands in the US we can deploy…depending on what we’re trying to address”.