Telstra, Australia’s largest cellco by subscribers, and the first mobile network operator to introduce commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, is understood to be exploring the possibility of upgrading to LTE Advanced technology. According to the Australian Financial Review, with rivals Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) both having unveiled plans to enter the 4G arena commercially, Telstra is thought to be seeking a means to maintain its technological edge. With Telstra confirming that it plans to upgrade around 7,500 cell sites over the next twelve months as part of a network improvement programme, the operator has suggested that it could offer LTE Advanced services over the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands. While the cellco currently uses the 900MHz band for its 2G voice services it could consider refarming the spectrum, with executive director of network and access technologies Mike Wright cited as saying: ‘We would like to take advantage of that spectrum and use it for an advanced configuration … I have just visited South Korea and they have had huge growth in LTE there in the same frequencies we use. If we can get some alignment, to take advantage of emerging trends, we would consider it.’
Meanwhile, in separate but related news, Telstra rival Optus has revealed that its wholly-owned mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile Australia is expected to offer LTE services before the end of 2012. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2012 Optus reiterated its plans for a commercial launch of 4G services, with it noting at that date that trials of LTE technology were taking place ahead of its capital city network rollout, which will see the LTE network switched on in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from mid-2012. Phase two of the rollout will see an expansion of 4G services to Brisbane and Adelaide from the first half of 2013.