Telstra set to provide 4G wholesale products by June 2016

Telstra has started putting in place the infrastructure and logistics work needed to provide its 4G service as a wholesale product to resellers by June next year.

Telstra is planning to make its 4G mobile service available through its wholesale business by June 2016 at the latest, the company has said.

Telstra Wholesale group executive Stuart Lee said in a statement on Tuesday that the company has begun putting in place the infrastructure and logistics groundwork needed to provide its 4G service as a wholesale product to resellers.

"We have commenced the technical work necessary at a network and platform level to ensure we can offer 4G next year," said Lee. "We will also begin discussions with our customers on whether they will add 4G to their products.

"While we are still developing our 4G product, at present, we expect it will reach at least 90 percent of the Australian population and offer high-speed download performance," he said.

It has been more than three years since Australia's largest telco started offering 3G post-paid wholesale products to resellers in Australia, but it was initially capped below the regular data transfer rates available on Telstra's Next G package.

In April 2014, Telstra announced that it would remove the 7.2Mbps cap it placed on its wholesale 3G data speeds.

The company's existing wholesale product, based on its 3G network, is still seeing sustained growth, according to Lee.

"Our 3G product continues to provide a high-quality experience for end users, but with mobile data use continuing to grow, we know many of our MVNO [mobile virtual network operators] customers are keen to have the opportunity to offer 4G services on Australia's leading mobile network," he said.

Of Australia's other 4G network operators, Optus has already moved to offer its 4G LTE service as a wholesale product, announcing in December last year that it would begin offering SIM-only reseller Amaysim access to its 4G service by April 2015.

Telstra's announcement comes as the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) reveals that the push for telecommunications spectrum bandwidth "harmonisation" among providers in the Asia-Pacific region is beginning to gain momentum.

According to the ACMA, 42 countries in the region are now committed to, or recommending the use of, the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) 700MHz band for advanced wireless broadband services.

Eight networks have now been deployed across four countries that are already using the band, including Telstra and Optus in Australia, which have committed to rollout plans that will see both companies cover 90 percent or more of the Australian population by mid-2014. Vodafone, though, is working to roll out its 4G network by repurposing its low-band 850MHz spectrum bandwidth, rather than the 700MHz band.

The lower radio frequency bands offer better range and building penetration than higher bandwidths, such as the 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 2100MHz bands, and are increasingly being used for carrier aggregation services, or 4G Plus, which combines several bands at once for wireless data transferral.

According to the ACMA, it also appears likely that Europe will at least partially harmonise with the APT 700MHz plan, further increasing the benefits that come from international harmonisation.

The economies of scale enabled by such spectrum harmonisation leads to "materially cheaper" LTE devices such a smartphones and tablets, said the ACMA, while international roaming is also made easier.

"The quality and attributes of any new band, as reflected in the gathering level of adoption globally, will be equally critical to the consumer experience," said ACMA chairman Chris Chapman.