January is a time most people like to sit back, relax and enjoy the Australian summer. For my team, we tend to look to see how we can take the next step in mobile network innovation.

You may remember back in May 2013 I wrote about Telstra’s acquisition of an amount of 700MHz spectrum that was to be made available when analogue television was switched off.

This band of spectrum allows us to build the next generation of mobile services and since analogue TV was switched off in December last year, and the spectrum cleared in some areas, we can now step things up.

While we officially have to wait until 1 January 2015 to get full access to the spectrum, testing is a big part of our network development plans and I’m very excited to announce that we have gained early access to some of the 700 MHz spectrum for trial purposes .

The exciting thing is that these are field trials being conducted in the real world  in NSW.

Today, together with our network partner Ericsson, we were able to complete the world’s first data session on APT700MHz on our live network across two test sites in regional NSW, using an advanced smartphone from HTC that will launch later this year.

Through this testing we are keen to understand how the network works with this band of spectrum, how commercial devices interact with the network and how we will be able to achieve faster speeds, more capacity and wider 4G coverage.

This is just the first of what will be a number of commercial device trials over the coming months as we work with manufacturers to have devices in market once the network is switched on.

The APT700MHz band has the ability to provide excellent in-building coverage as well as delivering wide area coverage in regional and rural areas. Once deployed, we expect to see increased capacity and performance and superior customer experience.

Our customers tell us a great performing network is central to getting the most out of their mobile and that is why we continue to invest in building the best network possible.