Mobile network operator (MNO) has announced that its 5G network now blankets three-quarters of the population, as it confirmed achieving the goal it set itself last year to roll out the next generation of mobile broadband connectivity to 75% of the population by mid-2021. In a press release regarding its in-deployment network, Telstra said that since the start of the year it had switched on 5G services in selected areas of more than 100 regional towns and cities including, Echuca-Moama, Castlemaine, Port Douglas, Yass, Murray Bridge, Devonport and Esperance taking the total to more than 200 nationally.
Commenting on the 5G rollout, Telstra Group Executive Networks & IT Nikos Katinakis said: ‘We’ve extended Telstra 5G well beyond the inner cities to our suburbs, regional centres and rural areas. We have almost three times the number of 5G sites as our nearest competition and nearly twice the amount of people covered.’
Meanwhile, complementing the rollout the MNO said that, in partnership with Ericsson, it has been improving 5G services with the deployment of new technologies, switching on 5G on low band 850MHz, while carrier aggregation (CA) technology has brought better connectivity ‘on the fringe of 5G coverage areas’ and improved in-building coverage. Telstra also pointed to its recent investment of AUD277 million (USD171 million) to secure 100MHz of mmWave 26GHz spectrum, adding that it already has around 50 sites live and in use in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Goulburn. Furthermore, Telstra claims to be ‘leading the way’ in the development of 5G Standalone (SA). Having enabled it in its Core network in May 2020, Katinakis said customer trials will begin ‘in the next few months … to explore the role 5G Standalone can play in real-time business applications’. Not content to rest there, Telstra continues to develop its 4G infrastructure and confirmed that its LTE network footprint now covers more than two million square kilometres and reaches 99.4% of the population. According to the cellco, coverage will continue to grow over the next few years to match Telstra’s current 3G footprint (2.5 million square kilometres and 99.5% population) reach.
Finally, in separate but related news, Telstra has announced that a consortium comprising the Future Fund, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation and Sunsuper will become a strategic partner in Telstra InfraCo Towers, after agreeing to acquire a 49% stake in the unit. With Telstra claiming its towers business is the largest mobile tower infrastructure provider in Australia with approximately 8,200 towers, the transaction is said to value Telstra InfraCo Towers at AUD5.9 billion, representing an FY21 pro forma EV/EBITDAaL1 multiple of 28×. Telstra expects net cash proceeds after transaction costs of AUD2.8 billion at completion, and the deal is expected to complete in the first quarter of FY22.