Telstra turns on 700MHz '4GX' in Melbourne

Telstra has switched on its 700MHz band '4GX' network in Melbourne, just days after Vodafone rolled out its own 4GX network capability in the city.

Telstra has turned on its "4GX" network in Melbourne, with the company tapping the 700MHz radiofrequency spectrum band for its 4G network to ramp up data speeds for customers in the area with compatible handsets.

The move follows hot on the heels of Vodafone Australia turning on its own 4GX network in Melbourne earlier this month, making use of the 850MHz spectrum band instead of the 700MHz band that was snapped up by Telstra and Optus during spectrum auctions last year.

On November 17, 678 Vodafone 4G+ 4GX sites went live in Victoria, with another 71 expected to be switched on over the following six weeks.

Melbourne was the second city, following Adelaide, to receive the high-speed 4G coverage. Adelaide was switched on last month, with other metropolitan cities in Australia expected to be switched on by Vodafone before Christmas.

Telstra started switching on parts of its 700MHz 4G network earlier this year, in preparation for the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices in September, rolling out the service in over 20 locations, including Sydney, Adelaide, and Darwin.

Earlier this month, Telstra added Hobart, Brisbane, and a number of regional locations to its 700MHz 4G network, as it works to promote the lower spectrum band, which not only provides better in-building penetration than the higher-frequency 1800MHz spectrum band, but also allows for greater LTE-Advanced carrier-aggregation capacity for increased data speeds with compatible phones.

Telstra said that with its 4GX network switched on in Melbourne, customers in the city have the potential of pushing their typical download speeds up to 100Mbps with compatible devices.

The service is available from Tuesday in parts of Melbourne's CBD and surrounding suburbs, including St Kilda, Windsor, Albert Park, South Yarra, South Melbourne, Docklands, West Melbourne, North Melbourne, Collingwood, Fitzroy, East Melbourne, Parkville, Elsternwick, and Cremorne.

Director of networks at Telstra Max Jennings said that the new network capacity would help Telstra stay ahead of consumers' increasing demand for data.

"The explosion in applications, shift towards mobile video consumption, and use of mobile in commerce means demand for connectivity continues to grow strongly," said Jennings. "We're staying ahead of this demand by introducing 4GX to boost network capacity."

The number of handsets in the Australian market that can operate on the 700MHz band is still relatively limited, but a number of Telstra's smartphones, tablets, and mobile broadband devices are 4GX ready, including the category 4 Samsung Galaxy 5, iPhone 6, and iPad Air 2, and the category 6 Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Samsung Note Edge.