Telstra and Optus to begin switching on 700MHz spectrum

Ready for next-gen 4G?

Both Optus and Telstra will begin switching on their 4G 700MHz networks this week in six locations across the country.

Telstra announced that it will conduct commercial trials using 20MHz of the 700MHz spectrum band in Darwin, Perth, Fremantle, Mt Isa, Mildura and Griffith, while Optus will be switching on its 700MHz network in Darwin and Perth CBDs.

This follows the final analog TV switch off occurring last year, while Telstra, Optus and TPG had bought up the spectrum during the Digital Dividend in early 2013.

The freed up 700MHz spectrum is scheduled to be switched on across nationwide in January 2015.

Next-gen 4G

Telstra and Optus were both granted early access commercial licences by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Optus has noted that switching on its the 700MHz spectrum network in Darwin this week will also mark the first time an Optus 4G service has been available in that region.

"Using 700MHz we'll be able to improve the indoor experience for our customers around the country and bring more choice to the 4G market by offering Optus 4G for the first time in places like Darwin," said Vic McClelland, Managing Director of Optus Networks.

It allows us to move beyond the testing phase into what customers experience on our live commercial network and enables us to deliver an enhanced 4G network experience."

With the early access, Telstra will be conducting commercial trials using 20MHz of the 700MHz spectrum band at the six locations mentioned above, allowing the network to combine the spectrum with the 1800MHz spectrum band to offer 4G Advanced.

"It will be capable of providing customers double the speeds they currently experience on the 4G network, plus better 4G coverage indoors and beyond," said Mike Wright, Telstra Group Managing Director Networks, of the telco's 4G Advanced network.

"In addition to faster speeds, this combination of two spectrum bands also doubles the 4G capacity of our network, which means it can support more customers, using more devices, doing more of the things they love at the same time."

700MHz devices

Currently, 700MHz compatible devices include HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 handsets, as well as Telstra's Advance Pro X Category 6 Wi-Fi hotspot.

It is expected that more compatible devices will make its way to Australia before the end of the year.

All wireless audio equipment operating in the 700MHz spectrum band can still be used up until the end of 2014. Early access to the band will help the telcos determine and test how such equipment affects the new networks until the end of the year.