Two of the country’s largest mobile telco carriers, TPG Telecom and Telstra, are playing nice together, teaming up to ‘restack’ two bands in their combined radio spectrum holdings in a bid to boost data speeds for customers.
Broadly, the project involved the defragmentation of TPG Telecom and Telstra spectrum holdings within the 2100MHz and 1800MHz bands to achieve contiguous holdings for each of the two operators in Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart.
According to TPG Telecom executive general manager of mobile and fixed networks Barry Kezik, while contiguous radio spectrum is a goal of the industry, sometimes operators have spectrum holdings that are split into two or more fragments within a frequency band.
Telstra and TPG’s spectrum holdings in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands were fragmented due to different spectrum allocations over the last decade, including the regional 1800 MHz auction in 2016 and the ‘multiband’ auction in 2017.
However, when the spectrum holdings used in a mobile network are more adjoined or connected and less fragmented, the network is capable of offering higher data speeds to customers.
This is expected to result of the ‘restack’ in significant boost to the data speeds of the companies’ mobile customers in those cities.
“Since the spectrum restack, we have observed a 10 to 20 percent improvement in mobile data speeds and traffic has increased significantly as customers take advantage of these faster speeds,” Kezik said. “We are continually looking at ways we can improve the customer experience across our mobile network.
“Ultimately, this is an example of two major telecommunications operators constructively working together to give customers improved services.
“This process also highlights how industry and the regulator can work together to achieve the most effective use of this valuable spectrum resource for the benefit of customers and we acknowledge the valuable support of the ACMA [the Australian Communications and Media Authority] throughout the process,” he added.
According to Telstra, the cooperative ‘restack’ is an Australian first, claiming it is the first time ever that two mobile network operators in Australia have agreed to mutually re-stack their spectrum holdings in the absence of regulatory direction.
Telstra group executive of networks and IT Nikos Katinakis said 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,” Katinakis said.