Network | Regional |

Spectrum decision is a win for regional Australia

By Lyndall Stoyles August 9, 2021

You may have heard from us recently about a spectrum decision we were waiting on from the Government that had the potential to dictate the economic and social outcomes across regional Australia for a generation.

Later this year the Government will auction off 20-year licences for ‘low band’ mobile services. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had recommended the Government limit the amount of low band spectrum we could bid for in the auction, which would have left us with less than what we have today in regional areas.

We’re pleased the Government has increased the amount of low band spectrum we can bid for in regional areas. We’ve been really vocal about how important this decision is – not just for our customers, but also to ensure regional Australia can better participate in and benefit from the growing digital economy.

The decision is a win for the people, businesses and communities of regional and rural Australia, and the regional stakeholders who advocated for it. It will mean we can bid for enough spectrum to maintain our leading mobile network, although we would have liked the opportunity to bid for more so that regional Australia can get the most out of the latest technologies as they evolve during the 20 year licence period.

A recap on why this issue is so important

Spectrum is what carries the calls and data between mobile towers and your phone – the more spectrum we can access, the more data that can be carried to your devices. There are different frequencies of spectrum, with ‘low band’ being essential for carrying mobile data over the vast distances needed across regional and rural areas.

We’re absolutely committed to the people, communities and businesses in regional Australia and we’ve invested billions of dollars to extend and enhance our mobile network to the far reaches of our country. Because of this our mobile network now covers one million square kilometres more than any other telco – that’s the size of New South Wales and Victoria combined.

We note part of the reasoning for the spectrum limits was to give Optus the opportunity to acquire additional spectrum to roll out 4G and 5G services across regional Australia. This rewards Optus for its failure to invest in previous low band spectrum auctions and really means it’s time for Optus to put its money where its mouth is.

Telstra 5G network at 50 per cent
Network |

Why spectrum matters for regional connectivity

By Lyndall Stoyles July 14, 2021

Later this year the Government will auction off 20-year licences for ‘low band’ mobile spectrum and its currently considering how much spectrum each mobile provider can buy.

Spectrum is what carries the calls and data between mobile towers and your phone – the more spectrum we can access, the more data that can be carried to your devices. There are different frequencies of spectrum, with ‘low band’ being essential for carrying mobile data over the vast distances needed across regional and rural areas.

What’s happening

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recommended the Government limit the amount of low band spectrum we can bid for in the auction, which would leave us with less than what we have today in regional areas.

This is a major policy decision that will dictate the economic and social outcomes for the bush for a generation.

Without access to the right amount of mobile spectrum, customers in regional towns will likely experience congestion and slower mobile speeds, and a delay to the rollout of 5G. This will create a two-tier digital economy that will impact education, health and business outcomes, particularly in rural and remote areas.

We’re not asking for more spectrum than we need, and we’re not asking to limit what Optus or TPG could bid for in any way. And we’re also not asking for spectrum to be set aside for our exclusive use like our competitors have.

What it means for you

We’re absolutely committed to the people, communities and businesses in regional Australia and we’ve invested billions of dollars to extend and enhance our mobile network to the far reaches of our country. Because of this our mobile network now covers one million square kilometres more than any other telco. And in many cases we’re the only game in town when it comes to 5G.

We want to keep extending our network and bring the latest technology to regional Australia, but this will be difficult to do if we don’t have the spectrum available to us.

A report by global economic consulting company, Compass Lexecon, found limiting Telstra’s spectrum will lead to worse outcomes for regional Australia, including service degradation and potentially higher prices to fund the extra infrastructure we need to make up for the lack of sufficient spectrum.

This doesn’t have to be the case. We’re not asking for other mobile providers to be restricted in any way – we’re just seeking to maintain a proportion of low band spectrum that’s similar to what we have today.

We’re pleased the Government is currently considering alternative spectrum limits and will soon make their decision on this.

We don’t want to alarm you, but we think it’s only fair that you’re aware of any decision that may impact your connectivity. We want to support regional Australia but we need the Government’s support to do this.

Telstra 5G Wi-Fi Pro
Network |

We’re investing $277m in spectrum to make our 5G network stronger and faster

By Andrew Penn April 23, 2021

You may have read that Telstra is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new spectrum for 5G. But what does this all mean?

The Australian Communication and Media Authority (or ACMA) today announced the results of its 26 GHz mobile spectrum auction, including that Telstra has secured 1000MHz of this spectrum to help us make our 5G network stronger and faster.

We’re spending around $277 million for our slice of this new mmWave spectrum to be used on the next phase of our 5G network which will deliver even faster speeds and much greater capacity. Much like there was with 4G, reaching the full potential with 5G involves rolling out the network in multiple phases. Initially, we’ve focused on coverage, launching 5G to as many people as possible as fast as possible, with our 5G network already reaching almost two thirds of Australians and will reach 75% by the end of June. But this is just the start of the journey and with the addition of mmWave spectrum to our 5G you’ll really start to see its full potential.

What is mmWave and why do we need it?

Each year we see data usage across our mobile network increase by an average of 40%. With more devices and more things that use more data, like 4K video streaming and virtual reality, we need more bandwidth so that you can still video chat to mum at a packed New Year’s event without a hitch.

mmWave – pronounced as “millimetre wave” – is a short-range, high-frequency and very high capacity spectrum band that really makes the most of what 5G can do.

It got its catchy name from the type of frequency it uses – which is what your phone uses to talk to mobile base stations to make calls, send texts and keep your data running fast and smooth. mmWave’s higher frequency means it can offer a lot of capacity and bandwidth, however it can only broadcast a few hundred metres. This makes it best suited to areas where there are lots of people in close proximity consuming data at a rate that can sometimes strain a network. This means places like shopping centres, crowded inner-city train stations and even stadiums could all benefit from the capabilities of mmWave.

There’s a whole lot more to mmWave and if you find all this techy stuff interesting, then you’ll also like this deeper dive piece we wrote to explain it further.

What will the new spectrum mean?

We mention capacity, because this is where our new 1000 MHz of spectrum comes in. This is more than 10x our existing dedicated 5G spectrum bandwidth. Having access to more spectrum creates more space on our network for mobile traffic, which means more data can flow through smoothly to more customers. The more spectrum you have, the more capacity for data your network has too.

Think of having more spectrum like being stuck in traffic in peak hour on the way to work and then having an extra 10 lanes added, allowing more cars to join the highway and travel faster. Having more spectrum for mmWave will let more 5G phones or 5G home broadband connections on the network to simultaneously download at higher speeds than ever on our network.

Having additional 5G spectrum also means that in the future our 5G home broadband service will be available to more customers in more places so you can binge the latest episode of The Mandalorian in 4K; or have multiple people at home on HD calls, without degrading quality.

For certain areas where the nbn might not be delivering a great experience, we’re really excited about the possibilities this opens to give our customers a fast and reliable home internet connection.

If you want to look even further into the future, mmWave will become central to things such as driverless cars or even some crazy ideas like watching the footy at the MCG with augmented reality glasses that can overlay all the stats and information you might be interested in. It opens up a whole new world for groundbreaking technology that is only going to boom and improve our lives going forward.

When will mmWave launch on Telstra?

While the licenses won’t come into effect until around the middle of the year, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has agreed to early access licensing, which will allow us to use the spectrum on our network even sooner.

However, mmWave is something we’ve been preparing for and been testing for a while now. This real-world testing has helped us understand how the technology works and interacts with the environment and has also assisted in the development of the standards that device manufacturers use to build and deploy their future mmWave capable products.

We’re working to bring more mmWave-capable devices to our customers this calendar year, adding to our first mmWave-capable device – the Telstra 5G WiFi Pro – which launched in May 2020.

Telstra has been leading the way in 5G for a long time, and our work to date means we’ll already be on the front foot when we’re able to access this spectrum and as devices become available. Our commitment to bring the latest mobile technology and its benefits to more Australians is stronger than ever and we can’t wait for you to experience this next evolution of our 5G technology.