Australia leading the way
When Telstra and Optus announced their intentions to deploy their networks using the 1800MHz spectrum band, it was a lonely ecosystem. In fact, Telstra had to work closely with Sierra Wireless to bring the dual-band 1800MHz and 850MHz dongle device to market to ensure that customers would even be able to get on its 4G network last year.
Apple also found itself in hot water in March, when its LTE-capable third-generation iPad launched in Australia advertising itself as a 4G device, despite the fact that it did not operate on the 1800MHz spectrum band. Apple agreed to pay an AU$2.25 million fine, and removed the 4G label from the iPad product information in Australia.
But despite the initial hurdles, since then, the 1800MHz ecosystem has flourished as network operators across the globe seek to reuse the spectrum that was used for 2G services, but freed up with the uptake of 3G.
The GSA's latest statistics have revealed that 1800MHz is the most popular choice for LTE networks across the globe, making up 37 percent of the 113 commercial networks in operation today. In total, 42 operators across the globe use the 1800MHz band for 4G in 29 countries, including the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Poland, South Africa, Singapore, and South Korea.
A further 22 operators, including Vodafone in Australia, are also planning to deploy 4G networks in the 1800MHz band in the near future.
As a result of its popularity, there are many devices available now that work on the 1800MHz band. The GSA estimates that 130 of the 560 LTE devices in the marketplace work on the 1800MHz spectrum band — almost one in four.
"We were, in a way, betting on the right horse, and the ecosystem has developed very good." - Günther Ottendorfer
"Industry momentum behind the deployment of LTE in 1800MHz has grown strongly over the past year, and a robust ecosystem is established to support 1800MHz as the prime band for LTE deployments worldwide, which will greatly assist international roaming," the GSA said.
Ottendorfer said that Optus bet on the right horse in using 1800MHz.
"We were, in a way, betting on the right horse, and the ecosystem has developed very good. The availability of the phones on the 1800[MHz] is there, so all that is really good for us," he said.
Wright said that he is "very pleased" with the uptake of 1800MHz worldwide, and what it means for what Telstra could offer.
"It's driving the device ecosystem, and that's the important thing with all these networks: getting the scale so there is enough devices out there.
With all of that in mind, just how are our 4G networks performing?