Telstra and TPG Telecom announce spectrum ‘restack’, boosting speeds in six cities

6 Jul 2021

Australian mobile network operators (MNOs) Telstra and TPG Telecom (branded Vodafone) have claimed an Australian-first, after working together to ‘restack’ (i.e. harmonise) their respective spectrum holdings.

According to CRN, the MNOs’ subscribers in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart and Perth will benefit from a better network experience, including improved speeds, after Telstra and TPG defragmented and restacked their respective 1800MHz and 2100MHz spectrum bands in those cities. In Telstra’s case, it has been confirmed that separate 10MHz spectrum blocks have been joined together to form single 20MHz blocks in the six locations as a result of the restacking process; TPG did not, however, provide details of how its frequency holdings were arranged at the end of the process. Meanwhile, the companies were said to have highlighted the fact that this is the first time that two of the country’s MNOs have agreed to mutually restack their spectrum holdings in the absence of regulatory direction – previously the 1800MHz band had been harmonised by all operators in 2012, but this was due to a spectrum licence reissue process conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Telstra Group Executive Networks & IT Nikos Katinakis was cited as saying that the project demonstrated that competitors, with the support of the ACMA, could work together to optimise their spectrum holdings to deliver better connectivity for their customers. ‘This is a win for Telstra customers who’ve seen an immediate improvement in Telstra 4G speeds in these locations and also shows telcos can work together to drive better network outcomes.’ In terms of specifics, Katinakis was reported to have said that Telstra had seen average 4G speeds improve by at least 10% in every city where the restack was done, and as much as 20% in Canberra and Darwin. Further, the executive said Telstra was now able to carry more traffic on the larger spectrum blocks, giving an example that the restacked 1800MHz spectrum in Canberra was now carrying 14% more traffic.

For its part, TPG Telecom’s executive general manager for mobile and fixed networks, Barry Kezik, suggested that its customers too have experienced an immediate improvement in their mobile data speeds as a result of the frequency shuffle. ‘Since the spectrum restack, we have observed a 10% to 20% improvement in mobile data speeds, and traffic has increased significantly as customers take advantage of these faster speeds,’ the executive noted.