I am pleased to announce that Telstra is now the proud owner of 2 x 40MHz of 2600MHz spectrum. While this may not mean much to the average customer, it’s actually a significant step in strengthening our mobile network for the future.

More importantly, it is a key enabler of the next generation of LTE-A called Cat 9. This will introduce commercial three band carrier aggregation which can deliver theoretical peak speeds of 450Mbps. Although we have already demonstrated this technology in one of our earlier world first trials, commercial devices which can support these speeds are not expected until next year, but with the release of this spectrum and new 2600MHz sites coming into service from today, we are well on the way to creating the super-charged network of the future.

Why spectrum is so important?

Spectrum is the lifeblood of our mobile network. It is the channel that carries all the calls, photos, text messages, email and social media posts between your device and the nearest base station. But the available spectrum is limited and in high demand, with mobile networks being just one use alongside all other radio based applications, from radio to TV, radar to satellites and garage door openers to WiFi gateways. Yes, they all need a piece of spectrum.

This is why Telstra was so keen to participate in the rare opportunity to purchase spectrum at the 2013 Digital Dividend Auction. The $1.3 billion spent to secure 2 x 20MHz of 700MHz spectrum and 2 x 40MHz of 2600MHz spectrum was a strategic investment in the future of our network and will allow us to strengthen our already superior 4G service.

We have talked a lot about the advantages of 700MHz and how this low band spectrum does well in covering large distances in rural areas as well as improving in-building coverage. We have also talked how we have accelerated our plans to deploy 700MHz ahead of a national launch on the 1st of January.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 2600 MHz band will provide us with additional capacity and, via aggregation with other 4G bands, even faster data speed capability to service growing customer demand. Our initial focus for the band will be to address demand in capacity hotspots such as holiday destinations and major Metro CBD areas.

With some sites already upgraded and with most 4G devices already compatible with the 2600MHz spectrum, our customers in these areas will soon benefit from the speed and reliability of performance that this extra band enables.