Telstra aiming 5G coverage at 75% of population by June 2021

A result of the telco bringing forward half a billion of capex into 2020.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Telstra CEO Andy Penn with a mmWave hotspot

Image: Telstra

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said on Monday the telco intends to have 75% of the population covered by its 5G footprint by June 2021.

"Our 5G network already covers around one-third of the population," Penn said.

"Telstra's 5G is already rolling out in 53 cities and regional towns across Australia and more than 10 million Australians now live, work or pass through our 5G network footprint every day."

The CEO tied the new goal to the company's coronavirus response that saw Telstra bring forward AU$500 million of capital expenditure slated for the second half of the next fiscal year into the calendar 2020 year.

"This capital will be deployed to increase capacity in our network, including further accelerating the rollout of 5G and injecting much needed investment into the economy at this time," Telstra said in March.

Over 210,000 5G services are connected to Telstra's network, the CEO said.

Penn also responded to criticism over the telco's latest plan structure, in which Telstra dropped its 5G fee, but bumped up the price of its base plans by at least AU$5 a month.

The "small" plan the telco offers now charges AU$55 a month for 40GB, medium is AU$65 for 80GB with 5G data thrown in, large now costs AU$85 for 120GB including 5G, and the extra large plan will see a AU$15 increase to AU$115 for 180GB with 5G connectivity.

Penn said on Monday the telco would be "inviting" eligible customers to shift to the new plans before the end of September, and if they do so, they will receive 12 months of credit to make up the difference between the plans.

"This is in addition to the fact that all of our plans feature no lock-in contracts and no excess data charges, unlike some of our competitors, where there can be up to AU$1500 of excess data charges tucked quietly behind the upfront charges," Penn said.

"Put simply, we are providing more data for the same price and committing to hold our price for twice as long as our major competitor because right now that's what customers need."

On Sunday, Telstra's domain name servers fell over under what was initially pinned as a denial of service attack, but later revealed to be caused by Telstra denying itself.

"The massive messaging storm that presented as a Denial of Service cyber-attack has been investigated by our security teams and we now believe that it was not malicious, but a Domain Name Server issue," the telco said on Sunday.

Last week, Telstra released a report from Forrester that said 52% of respondents felt their organisation had continuity plans that could address cyber attacks.

"A further 79% reported not having security analytics -- security information management, managed security service provider), or cloud-native -- in place to protect 'as-a-service' environments that are offered via cloud deployment," the report said.

It added that two-thirds of respondents did not feel their organisation could handle a large base of remote workers before coronavirus struck, with 40% stating changes have been made as a result, and over 30% have thought about changes to endpoint security and VPNs.

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