Consolidating our network leadership
Telstra’s networks continue to be among the best in the world and provide us real strategic differentiation. Our recent announcement that we will invest up to an extra $3 billion over three years on new investments in networks and business initiatives is designed to help us continue to maintain strategic advantage in a heavily competitive environment. The new investments will go towards transforming the next generation of network architecture, with a focus on the next stage of mobile network innovation including preparation for 5G, as well as strategic investments in our fixed network services.
Notwithstanding the interruptions we experienced in the second half of the financial year, in FY16 we made progress on network innovation and overall, we invested $4 billion in capital expenditure, including investment in our fixed and mobile networks and other works.
We are increasing mobile coverage
With the nation’s largest mobile footprint and as the first carrier to bring 4G mobile services to regional Australia, we are acutely aware of the challenges facing communities living with limited mobile network access. Our mobile network remains the largest and most reliable mobile network in Australia and now covers over 2.4 million square kilometres and 99.3 per cent of the Australian population. Our 4G network now covers 98 per cent of the Australian population and we are on track to reach 99 per cent of the population by June 2017.
Under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme, we are deploying 429 new 3G/4G base stations to improve mobile coverage for over 400 communities across Australia and of these, we have already delivered sites providing new and improved mobile coverage to approximately 50 communities.
We are preparing our network for the future
We have taken significant steps to prepare our networks for the future, to meet the rising demand for data and content on our networks.
LTE Broadcast (LTE-B)
As growth of video consumption continues to accelerate on our mobile network, LTE-B technology can allow large groups of customers to consume the same content in the same location at the same time, such as software downloads or sports content.
In FY16, we enabled the capability to switch on LTE Broadcast technology across our entire 4GXTM coverage area giving us a platform to cost effectively broadcast high quality video media to a number of metropolitan and regional areas around Australia.
In September, we launched Australia’s first Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service that allows voice calls to be carried on the 4G service for the first time. Benefits include call setup times speeds and the ability to serve new coverage areas more cost effectively with 4G alone rather than having to include 3G infrastructure for voice.
In late 2015, we completed a world first commercial launch of a device capable of 600Mbps peak download speeds and the successful demonstration of a device with 1Gbps download capabilities on a commercial network. Our mobile network has now been enabled to support 1Gbps peak download speeds in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane CBD areas in readiness for commercial devices which we expect to become available later in 2016.