About the Telstra Network
Telstra Corporation Limited is the largest mobile network operator in Australia. With its history as the incumbent state-owned telecommunications services provider, the company has used its dominant market position to build one of the world's fastest mobile networks.
The company can trace its roots to 1901 when following Federation the Post Master General (PMG) department was established by the newly formed Australian Commonwealth. It wasn't until 1975 when Australia's postal service was separated from its telecommunications industry and the company became Telecom Australia. In 1993 Telecom was renamed as Telstra Corporation Limited with the name derived from Telecom Australia (TEL from Telecom and STRA from Australia).
The company was privatised between 1997 and 2011 with the process being completed in three stages (T1, T2, and T3) with the governments holding reduced to 17% in 2006. The government held its share in Australia's Future Fund, a sovereign wealth fund set up to pay the superannuation commitments of the Australian Public Service. In 2011 the Future Fund was forced to sell its holding in the company as part of the government's asset selloff in 2011, resulting in the company becoming wholly privately owned.
Telstra 3G & Next-G
After operating its 2G GSM network since April 1993 and CDMA network since 1999, Telstra decided to launch its flagship "Next-G" network in 2005. The brand new network was part of a sweeping modernisation project to bring rural Australia into the age of 3G. The new network would use a Band 5 850 MHz frequency instead of the more popular Band 1 2100 MHz so that it could meet the geographical coverage of its existing 800 MHz CDMA network.
By October 2006 Telstra's Next-G network was fully active and could provide mobile internet speeds up to 7.2 Mb/s. The company added the cutting-edge HSPA+ data protocol in December 2008 making the network the fastest in the world with speeds of up to 21 Mb/s available. By February 2010 Telstra had added DC-HSPA+, doubling the maximum speed to 42 Mb/s.
Shortly after, Telstra found it necessary to add an extra Band 1 (2100 MHz) frequency so that it could meet the rapidly increasing demand for mobile internet. This higher frequency network allowed Telstra to pack lots of towers into a smaller area, meaning less traffic load per tower.
Telstra 3G Shut-Down
After over a decade of use, Telstra announced that it would begin shutting down both its 3G networks. The B1 (2100 MHz) network would be first to shut down, with its valuable spectrum being reused to boost capacity on Telstra's 4G network. The 3G shut-down would begin in 2020 and be almost completed by 2022.
|UMTS Band||Packet Data||Status|
Australia's mobile internet revolution truly began when in 2011 Telstra launched its 4G network. The brand new network used LTE, a wireless technology made only for data. Telstra's 4G LTE network used the Band 3 (1800 MHz) frequency to provide very high speed internet within about 3 to 5 kilometers from each tower.
The new network was a huge success. Speeds of up to 100 Mb/s were now possible and the use of roof mounted antennas became an easy way to pick up a high speed internet connection out to about 20-30 kilometers. The high frequency did however have a downside. Unlike the Next-G network, 4G struggled to reach indoors and was hopeless at covering large distances.
To help extend 4G coverage to rural areas, in 2014 Telstra added a 700 MHz frequency which it called its "4GX" network. Band 28 (700 MHz) was able to travel much further and reach inside basements, underground car parks, and penetrate through bushland. Telstra also used a wider channel bandwidth, increasing speeds to 150 Mb/s.
But that wasn't the only change 4GX introduced. 4GX used LTE-Advanced, an upgrade to the LTE protocol which allowed the aggregation of multiple carriers together to create one super fast wireless network. Carrier Aggregation allowed Telstra to bond 700+1800 MHz frequencies to increase speeds up to 300 Mb/s.
The company owns two 20 MHz blocks of 2600 MHz spectrum and has sufficient 2100 MHz licences to provide carrier aggregation of up to five bands (B1, B3, B7+B7, and B28), which has demonstrated DL data rates up to 843 Mb/s in recent trials (using a Category 16 LTE device).
Further trials in February 2018 demonstrated 5C aggregation (CA_1A-3C-7C) achieving over 2 Gb/s DL data rates using 256QAM, 4x4 MIMO, and 5CC CA (100 MHz). The company announced commercial activation of its 2 Gb/s LTE-A Pro network in September 2018, making it the world's first 2 Gb/s LTE network. 4x4 MIMO is currently available on B1, B3, and B7, with future compatibility with B28 announced. Telstra also intends on deploying 6C (CA_1A-3C-7C-28A) in future releases of the LTE standard.
|Evolution||Status||Active [Launched 2011-09-27]|
|Max. MIMO||Max. Modulation||
|LTE Band||Channel Width||Status|
Telstra 5G FR1 Network
In partnership with Ericsson, Telstra began laying foundation work for 5G in 2017, including testing in the n78 (3500 MHz) band, MU-MIMO, and beam-forming trials using Ericsson AIR radio+antenna units. The company's first 5G base stations were officially launched in August 2018, and by October 2018 the company had announced the successful switch-on of 50 base stations. Initial deployments have used Ericsson AIR 6468 and 6488, implementing n78 (3500 MHz) and n258 (26 GHz).
Telstra secured between 35 and 80 MHz of 3.5 GHz spectrum in the country's November 2018 5G spectrum auctions, ranging from 3575 to 3655 MHz.
NR (Rel. 15+)
|Status||Active [Launched 2018-08-15]|
|Max. MIMO||Max. Modulation||
|NR Band||Channel Width||Status|
Telstra NB-IoT Network
In January 2018 the company announced the commercial activation of its NB-IoT network, securing its position as one of the first operators in the world to offer both Narrowband and Cat M1 (eMTC) IoT technologies.
Telstra LTE-M Network
In February 2017 the company began working with Ericsson for the upgrade of its LTE network to support eMTC (LTE Cat-M1) to support the growing demand of IoT in Australia. The network, which is often called LTE-M, became available on B3 and B28 bands in January 2018.