Telstra said it has seen up to 20 percent speed improvements to 4G services after working with TPG Telecom to restack certain mobile spectrum holdings.
Spectrum re-stacking involves defragmenting and shifting separate spectrum blocks that are not next to each other to create a single contiguous holding.
In Telstra’s case, separate 10 MHz spectrum blocks have been joined together to form single 20 MHz blocks in six cities - Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart and Perth.
Telstra and TPG’s spectrum holdings in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands were fragmented “due to different spectrum allocations over the last decade, including the regional 1800 MHz auction in 2016 and the “multiband” auction in 2017,” Telstra said in a statement.
It’s the “first time ever” that two different mobile network operators agreed to restack their spectrum holdings “in the absence of regulatory direction,” Telstra added.
“The 1800MHz band was restacked by all operators in 2012 but that was due to the ACMA’s [Australian Communications and Media Authority’s] spectrum licence reissue process.”
The ACMA played a support role in the voluntary restacking process, “endorsing the technical mechanism for the restack as well as varying our respective spectrum licenses to reflect the new arrangements,” Telstra said.
“Thanks to this project, we have seen average 4G speeds improve in every city where the restack was done by at least 10 percent and in Canberra and Darwin by 20 percent,” Telstra group executive for networks and IT Nikos Katinakis said
“We can also carry more traffic on larger spectrum blocks. For example, in Canberra our restacked 1800MHz spectrum is carrying approximately 14 percent more traffic.
“This means better speeds and better capacity for our customers in these areas, even at busier times on our network.”
TPG Telecom's executive general manager for mobile and fixed networks Barry Kezik reported similar improvements.
“Since the spectrum restack, we have observed a 10 to 20 percent improvement in mobile data speeds, and traffic has increased significantly as customers take advantage of these faster speeds,” Kezik said.
“As we refarm spectrum gradually from 4G to 5G over the coming years, there will be additional performance benefits to harness.”