Telstra has predicted that an "explosion" of devices will operate on long-term evolution (LTE) in the 1800MHz spectrum band, despite Apple's new iPad not being one of them.
Anthony Goonan, director of Network and Commercial Planning for Telstra, told the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Australasia conference on Monday that from the launch of its 3G network in the mainly unused 850MHz spectrum in 2006, Telstra has been driving the creation of network technology in spectrum bands that were not the norm.
"Telstra has a track record of being able to create an ecosystem," Goonan said.
Goonan said the same would happen with Telstra's new LTE network in the 1800MHz spectrum band. Telstra was one of the first to launch an LTE network in the band, and now there are around 14 around the world. Although Apple's new iPad will not work in the 1800MHz spectrum band for LTE, Goonan said there were already 50 devices that would, and many more would come.
"You will see over the coming year, an explosion of 4G devices that will operate on this 1800MHz band that is being utilised in Australia. So that is proof that there is a need; there is a benefit; if there is a market, this can be done."
Aside from the 1800MHz spectrum band, which has been re-farmed from 2G to LTE, Telstra operates in the 900MHz spectrum band for 2G, and 850MHz and 2100MHz for 3G. The latter is still being used as part of a joint venture network for 3 Mobile. The metro-based network is being shut down in August and, although 2100MHz could be used for LTE, Telstra will instead re-farm this spectrum for 3G.
"We're actually closing that particular network in August this year and we are progressively reusing the 2100MHz frequency spectrum from that joint venture network in [our] 3G network. With that you get more of the Next G services," he said.
Telstra is in the process of advising customers that will be affected by the shut down, with some users needing to get a new phone that will work on the other spectrum bands Telstra uses.
Vodafone is encouraging affected 3 Mobile customers to switch to Vodafone when the switch-off is conducted.
Telstra has been generally strengthening its 3G services so that customers never have to fall back to 2G. However, although 2G use had declined to about 10 to 15 per cent of its peak levels, Goonan said Telstra had no intention of re-farming the 900MHz 2G spectrum just yet.
"We've not announced, or have any plans to announce at this stage a closure of that network, but quite literally we've probably got 10 to 15 per cent of customers that we had in the height of 2G on that network," he said. "But it remains an important network, for example, for international roamers and the retail customers that we have on that network."
Instead, Telstra will look at addressing capacity issues on its 850MHz and 2100MHz 3G networks.
"The demand on the 3G network is doubling every 12 months but we continue to add capacity to that network, using either the 850MHz, 2100MHz or 4G 1800MHz capability to maintain the performance," he said, acknowledging that there were a few "hotspots" where coverage was an issue.
"We have a program, many hundreds of millions of dollars every year to augment capacity into that network to maintain the performance that our customers have come to enjoy," he said.
Josh Taylor travelled to the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials Australasia conference as a guest of Motorola.