“Bragging rights?” Telstra has 1,000 4G base stations


blog At Delimiter we’re big fans of Telstra’s 4G mobile network. And with mobile broadband speeds up to 40Mbps, who wouldn’t be? The telco has just launched several flagship handsets on the network — the HTC One XL and the Titan 4G — and now, according to a post on its Exchange blog, it’s hit another milestone. Telstra executive director of Networks & Access Technologies Mike Wright tells us:

“Last week at Telstra we switched on our 1000th 4G site, extending the benefits of LTE technology to Mackay in Queensland. It is phenomenal to think that we have reached this milestone when it was one year ago to the day that we announced that the first 4G LTE base stations had been switched on … When we launched our 4G services in September 2011 we offered a mobile broadband dongle. Nine months on and we offer our customers a full range of 4G enabled products, including four smartphones, an ultra-fast tablet and a wifi hotspot.”

Remember how in May 2011, Optus chief executive Paul O’Sullivan said that Telstra’s launch of 4G services was “just bragging rights” and there was little consumer demand for 4G? Well, considering that Optus is still only trialling 4G services in one small area (Newcastle), Vodafone hasn’t launched any 4G services at all, and Telstra has north of 100,000 real customers on its 4G network and 1,000 base stations located around the country, I’d say that at this point Telstra has a very real right to brag indeed.

Let’s go back to this February 2011 article and consider, for a moment, just how far ahead Telstra is in mobile at this stage. At that time, I wrote:

“Australia’s mobile sector is about to experience a dramatic segregation into two halves: With Telstra’s blisteringly fast and capable network on the one side, and those of Optus and VHA on the other. Telstra is not aiming with its LTE ploy to gain a speed, coverage and capacity advantage on Optus and VHA. It already has that. What the telco is aiming to do with its 4G strategy is advance so far ahead of what the pair have to offer, that there is no point comparing the different networks any more — Telstra’s advantage will be exponential.”

Does that sound about right? I would think so. Bragging rights, indeed.

Image credit: Telstra


  1. Ouch- they’re not playing soft are they?

    It’s true though. They’re still far and away the best network and it looks to only get better.

  2. Telstra is still far and away the most expensive network to be on. Vodafone has always been fine for me and substantially cheaper that Telstra.

    • That’s trur Michael. Telstra is slightly more expensive, that’s what kept their customer base reasonable so they could not implode like Vodafone did 2 years ago.

      If Vodafone works for you, that’s great. I’ve got no problem with that. But, come down to where I live and try it….I think you might be singing a different tune then. Vodafone got rid of their shop down here….

  3. ” and there was little consumer demand for 4G? “.
    Haven’t I heard something similar recently about something similar, I have heard of foot fetishes, but Foot in Mouth Fetish. ?

    Regardless I have a very high regard for Telstra’s technical expertise, especially their specialist groups. After all they made a major contribution to the development of Cellular radio technology, involved as experts in the Jindivic Pilotless aircraft program, the over the horizon radar etc. (All Radio technology) They I am sure have retained some of the expertise of their research labs.

    When they didn’t bid for the NBN Mk1, they weren’t interested in landline that would be ACC regulated, they wanted away from the enforced wholesaling at determined rates on a deteriorating network that will need to be replaced, in the early open competition it was the major player that was forced to wholesale, Telstra couldn’t escape the fixed line obligation, but chose to let Optus wear the Mobile crown and burden up until recent times.

    Telstra has some astute and smart people and teams, with their in house expertise they are formidable in wireless, there are guys there that have forgotten more than many other experts know

    • So why does Telstra ‘have’ to bid, isn’t it a free country anymore? There are plenty of other players out there, where were they? Optus and affiliates put a bid in, why didn’t the government pick them?

      You should look the number of Mobile equipment manufactures in Australia (Zero), you buy in the technology which numbs down the workforce capability and with your Wholesale argument, buy the services of Optus/AAPT etc if you are so inclined.

  4. “Telstra has north of 100,000 real customers on its 4G network and 1,000 base stations located around the country”

    So they are admitting to high contention ratios averaging 100:1 – no wonder speed goes south during peak periods…

    • Pretty sure 100:1 counts as VERY low user:basestation ratios, particularly if none (or very few) of those basestations are micro/pico-cells.

      All the other 3G networks would be, what, 10 to 100 times higher than that?

  5. Does anyone know the total amount of 2100MHz 2G towers there are? It’s not like Telstra are building new towers, they are just simply plugging in new 4G equipment at the base and reusing the old 2G spectrum. They are simply in a phase of can rapidly deploy 4G to X amount of towers. While people still using Nokia 3330’s to make phone calls are losing more reception every day!

    • Ahh, Rob, might want to check your data. We don’t use 2100 GSM in Australia. You mean 1800 2G? Yes they are repurposing some of those towers. However this is not unlike their change from CDMA to NextG- that turned out to be a storm in a teacup. GSM coverage will not change significantly for voice and text as yet though. It may in the future but I think Telstra realise they need to get more people off of 2G only phones yet and get them onto NextG phones, which can still be dumbphones if people want (like the old Nokias).

      It’ll almost certainly turn out that if you’re affected by the repurposing, like with CDMA, you’ll be offered a new phone on NextG.

      Telstra are innovators in mobile wireless. They have to keep moving forward and they can’t wait for people who’ve not yet adopted 10 year old technology.

      • AFAIK GSM1800 was limited in its roll-out, only in areas where GSM900 could not cope with the demand – most GSM phones would be using 900 anyway, so refarming the frequency for LTE will not really affect anyone. The only people it would affect would be people roaming with American tri-band GSM phones: I doubt they would be used any more anyway!

        • Agreed Ben. GSM 900 is much more common- it has a much larger coverage area.

          Very few people would still have 2G only phones- and if they do….well, you can never account for bad taste…:D

  6. So another Telstra fanboi article..

    Of course in the background both Optus and Vodafone have several thousand base stations all ready to go with 4G when they choose to launch it…..

    Also Optus now has a VERY large batch of 2300Mhz to use… How’s Telstra going to compete with that ? 700Mhz is many years away still before it can be used

    • Not a fanboi article. Simple truth. I very much dislike Telstra as a company but their network is second to none.

      1800mhz is alot of places for Telstra as its part of their old GSM network. It also has a longer range than 2300. But Optus are launching 1800. 2300 is range they bought from VividWireless and its not clear yet what they’ll be using it for.

      And 700mhz is likely to be ready for deployment in about 18 months. The auction will be in a bit over 12 after analogue is switched off.

      Just because their network is better and we’re willing to pay for it doesn’t mean we’re fanboi’s. I used to get 2/3 calls a week drop out on Optus where I live.

    • “So another Telstra fanboi article..”

      Telstra has a large and rapidly expanding 4G network, its competitors do not; those are facts. I’m not sure how that qualifies this as a “fanboi” article.

      “Of course in the background both Optus and Vodafone have several thousand base stations all ready to go with 4G when they choose to launch it…..”

      And that will be newsworthy once they “choose” to launch it, not before. Why even bring it up?

      • “And that will be newsworthy once they “choose” to launch it, not before. Why even bring it up?”

        Hey Jeremy- It’s called Optus/Vodafone Fanboism…. :D

      • The answer lies right here: “Telstra has a large and rapidly expanding 4G network, its competitors do not; those are facts”

        Um.. .no they aren’t, there are 5+ 4g networks in Australia, most are private. It’s competitors DO have large and rapidly expanding 4G networks, and you are using them right now, just in 3g mode.

        Other carriers prefer to say ‘we have 4G’ and ACTUALLY HAVE 4G in most areas… unlike Telstra that only works in small areas populated by less than 50% of the workforce.

        Ask Telstra if you have 4G in ringood, hell yeah the network is there they say, but you can’t even get good 3g speeds in Ringwood, It’s like saying Vodafone is a 1Gigabit network because there’s a fibre connected ‘somewhere’…

        Give the tech 1-2 years before it’s true 4G, for now it’s all hype for most people.

          • Dawsei

            Telstra’s 4G has expanded considerably since its’ launch and it’s already got 300 000 customers. More than most other “4G competitors” put together.

            Is it all roses and fairies for speeds everywhere? No. But with speeds like 35Mbps in Sydney and 40 at Melbourne airport…..that’s a pretty good case for a decent network.

            Don’t like them? Go with one of the competitors….but there’s a reason 300 000 people have chosen otherwise…

  7. 100K services is quite inflated.

    Telstra have no problem selling 4G services to people who live no-where near 4G coverage. I know two people who fit into this category. No doubt Telstra classify these users as 4G users.

    Renai you need to take Telstra’s claims with a grain of salt.

    • True Dan, the latest report from Telstra actual concedes only about 30 000 people have 4G phones. But it also reports 300 000 total users now. Including Hot spots and Tablets (ie the Galaxy 8.9 4G).

      They may not live near 4G now, but give Telstra another 12 months, and, because it’s using 1800 Mhz which is re-farmed 2G, which is widespread, many MANY more people WILL have access to it.

      Of course, they’re ALWAYS gonna toot their own horn….but they do still have the best network in 3G anyway, so….. :D

  8. Telstra simply do not have enough 1800mhz spectrum to have a full 4G network for more than a small number of users….

    How much 2300mhz spectrum does Optus now own…………….. Vivid wireless………

    • “Telstra simply do not have enough 1800mhz spectrum to have a full 4G network for more than a small number of users….
      How much 2300mhz spectrum does Optus now own…………….. Vivid wireless………”

      Another Fanboi….have you looked at Telstra’s coverage? Certainly 1800Mhz 2G was fill in, as 900 was the main rollout. But their coverage is still, MINIMUM 3 or 4 times larger than VividWirleless, and it spreads across regional and rural areas, where Vividwireless doesn’t.

      Secondly- Telstra doesn’t own enough spectrum….??? That doesn’t make sense. Telstra owns the rights to spectrum wherever its’ contract says it bought it to deploy 1800Mhz. You don’t buy spectrum in bits and pieces all over the place, you buy the rights to it for large areas, like Metro or regional centres and Telstra has this.


      Add up Telstra’s total bid and lots purchased. It’s CONSIDERABLY higher than anyone elses.

      VividWireless’ coverage is restricted to the cities. And Optus’ 1800Mhz is almost non-existant, as they used 900 almost everywhere for GSM.

      Would you like to try again?

  9. How can Telstra and other phone providers alike spend so much money on improving speeds and reception in congested areas when alot of us in more regional areas are struggling to get a mobile phone signal let alone Internet.

    • Barry, may I ask what region you live in? I’m genuinely interested, because I’ve travelled a fair bit and found few places Telstra doesn’t at least have reception.

      Is it unreliable? Or simply not there?

    • I’m with you..Internet/phonehere is pretty much Telstra except you can expect disconnects every minute,if you get a signal in the first place and as for 3G lol,it’s hasn’t been upgraded to 21mb? even and the only 4G is a 3k area surrounding the CBD in Mildura.
      I have no doubt Telstra have the jump on everyone and early adopters are all estatic at the 4G speed BUT it will only degrade as more people connect and the network like the 3G network will become congested and slow etc etc while Telstra continue to charge a premium price for network that is not capable of the speed it had to start with.
      Rural area’s are shafted daily so don’t expect that will change anytime soon or at all in fact .

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