Telstra has been testing out long-term evolution advanced (LTE-A) carrier aggregation technology that allows users to access 4G across two spectrum bands for higher speeds.
The company worked with its network construction partner Ericsson late last month to test out a commercial Netgear dongle with a Qualcomm chipset across a number of base stations on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The category 4 device will not only give customers access to LTE-A on the 1800MHz and 900MHz network, but will also allow for much higher speeds on the single LTE band when outside of LTE-A coverage areas.
Telstra's director of Networks Mike Wright told ZDNet that Telstra is doing the test to "shake the bugs out" of the technology ahead of a commercial release in the near future.
"We will use this particular spectrum combination in parts of the network between now and when we get 700MHz up and running, where we believe we'll get benefit because a customer is a long way from the tower," Wright said.
He said that deploying LTE-A in the 900MHz spectrum would also provide better in-building coverage for 4G than what is currently available on 1800MHz alone. Telstra is working with device manufacturers on getting more devices that will be able to utilise this network, and Wright said he believes some telcos in Europe will also begin to look at combining the same spectrum bands, meaning more devices would become available over time.
Wright said that going in early on the LTE-A network would be a bridge to the release of the 700MHz spectrum to Telstra at the beginning of 2015.
"It makes sure we can continue to service customers in certain parts of the network between now and when 700MHz comes," he said.
Håkan Eriksson, the head of Ericsson in Australia and New Zealand, said that the operators will keep a close eye on Telstra's trial.
"Across the region and the globe, many operators have spectrum available in the 1800MHz and 900MHz bands as they migrate subscribers from 2G to 3G or 4G. Many operators will be watching the Australian deployment of LTE-Advanced on these spectrum bands," he said in a statement.