Telstra expands 700 MHz LTE network

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Telstra expands 700 MHz LTE network

To make 4G available to 90 percent of Australians.

Telstra has unveiled a $1.3 billion investment plan to expand coverage of its LTE (4G) network to 90 percent of the population and to exploit its recently acquired 700MHz spectrum by enabling compatible devices to use 700MHz and 1800MHz frequencies simultaneously to boost bandwidth.

Services will be turned on in parts of Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin, Bundaberg, Yamba and Sarina in the week beginning 15 September.

Using both frequencies at the same time should enable theoretical maximum downstream speeds of 300Mbps. However there will only be one device on the market this year - the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - that will be able to use this feature, known as carrier aggregation.

Warwick Bray, Telstra's head of mobile product said the telco "will be announcing further [compatible devices] but we have not quantified that as yet...We are working with manufacturers to ensure we have a great series of carrier aggregation devices."

Telstra has, however, promised to have 13 devices on the market by the end of 2014 - including the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S - that will be able to use 700MHz as well as 1800MHz. The suite will also include a wi-fi hotspot from Huawei.

Lower frequencies like 700MHz provide better in-building coverage and greater range than 1800MHz.

Telstra says it expects more than one million customers will have devices able to use the 700MHz services by year-end.

"We have just achieved a significant crossover point. We now have more 4G [LTE] customers on our network than 3G customers," Bray said.

The telco commenced trialling 4G 700MHz services in Perth, Fremantle, Esperance and Mildura earlier this year with Adelaide and Sydney brought on board last month.

Telstra said it would switch on LTE services in the 700MHz band on 1 January 2015 to provide coverage within a 3 km radius of all capital CBDs and 50 regional locations. Prior to that it will expand its existing commercial trials of 700MHz LTE to more than 20 additional metropolitan and regional centres during the rest of 2014. 

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