4G connectivity in Australia

In telecommunications, 4G is the fourth generation of cell phone mobile communications standards. It is a successor of the third generation (3G) standards. A 4G system provides mobile “ultra-broadband” Internet access. Major Australian telcos, and most resellers that use one of these major telcos, have been rolling out and continuing to upgrade 4G since 2011/2012.

In September 2014, Optus launched LTE Carrier Aggregation in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Optus markets LTE Carrier Aggregation as “4G Plus”. Optus combines two 20 MHz channels of 2.3 GHz spectrum.

At the end of September 2014, Telstra has opted not to extend combined 900 MHz and 1800 MHz Carrier Aggregation service.

In November 2014, Telstra launched LTE Carrier Aggregation (marketed as 4GX) in parts of Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin and ten regional centres (Albany, Ulladulla, Murray Bridge, Narrawallee, Shepparton, Bateman’s Bay, Swansea, Bunbury, Port Macquarie and Chinchilla), bringing to 26 the number of communities with the service. The operator wants to bring “4GX” to at least 50 regional centres by New Year’s Day. Telstra combines 20 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum and 20 MHz of 1.8 GHz spectrum.

Since 2015, Vodafone has offered carrier aggregation across its main 4G bands, 850 MHz and 1800 MHz.

Telstra were the first carrier in Australia to launch VoLTE. The service is available on 6 phones (Four being iPhones and two being Samsung Galaxy’s). Telstra have switched on the VoLTE on every one of their 4G networks across Australia but currently the 4G small cells setup in regional Australia do not have VoLTE compatibility. The VoLTE network is said to be clearer and provide up to 5 way voice calls.

Optus has commenced rollout of VoLTE across its 4G Plus mobile network in Australia’s major capital cities on May, 2016.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge will be the first devices available with Optus VoLTE, with plans to include more devices underway. Optus postpaid consumer and SMB customers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra CBD metros areas will be among the first to see the rollout of VoLTE.

Vodafone conducted VoLTE trials in early 2015 [non-primary source needed]

The 700 MHz band was previously used for analogue television and became operational with 4G in December 2014.

Optus announced trials of its 4G 700 MHz network in Darwin and Perth CBDs on July 21, 2014.
The 700mhz network was made active on January 1, 2015.

In July 2014 Telstra announced a trial of 4G services in the 700 MHz spectrum in Perth, Fremantle, Esperance, Mildura, Mt Isa and Griffith. Service launched in November 2014. This band will be the basis for the ‘4GX’ brand.

Vodafone acquired some residual spectrum on this band. Their license commences on 1 April 2018.

The 850 MHz band is currently operated as a 3G network by Telstra and as a 4G network by Vodafone.

Vodafone switched the 4G 850 network on in Adelaide on 6 October 2014. By the end of 2014 all other capital cities were switched over to 4G, and in Q2 2016 all regional sites were activated on 4G on this band.

The 1800 MHz band is currently operated as a 2G and 4G network by Optus, Telstra and Vodafone.

Optus has now installed their 4G networks in all the capital cities and thousands of regional areas, and markets that they currently cover 86% of the Australian population with their 4G Plus Network

Telstra was the first mobile phone network to operate 4G and 2G in the same band. Their 4G network covers capital cities and some regional areas.

The Vodafone 4G network was first live in selected metro areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, and the outer metro areas of Wollongong, Gold Coast, Newcastle and Geelong from June 12, 2013. The 1800 MHz network has since been expanded to include all capital cities and major outer metro areas, and a rollout has begun for some regional areas.

This band is commonly used for 3G services on Telstra and Optus, with only a very limited rollout on 4G. Vodafone have begun completely refarming their 2100 MHz coverage from 3G to 4G.

Since 2015, Vodafone have offered limited coverage using 5 MHz of Band 1 (2100 MHz) spectrum in major regional cities. Starting in 2017, this coverage was increased by adding more locations with 10 MHz bandwidth in regional areas. From 2017 onwards, the 2100 MHz spectrum in metropolitan areas was refarmed to 4G.

Optus use 2300 MHz TD-LTE (Band 40) in big cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, plus selected metropolitan locations.
Optus first launched its TD-LTE network in Canberra on May 2013.

Optus and Telstra trialled the 2600 MHz frequency in Australia. Service launched in October 2014.

Telstra announced to use the frequency 2016 for commercial service.

TPG had initially surprised some by bidding in the auction as they had no infrastructure at the time. On the 30 September 2015 TPG signed a deal with Vodafone Australia to gain access to Vodafone base stations. In return TPG will provide Dark Fibre to vodafone towers and also move their current mobile subscribers from the Optus network over to the Vodafone network.

As of Apr 2017:

The following mobile virtual network operators offer 4G services in Australia:

In January 2013, Telstra launched LTE-Roaming in Hong Kong. Telstra partners with csl.

4G roaming from Telstra in now available in New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America

Vodafone has 4G roaming in the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Both prepaid and postpaid services can use 4G in those countries overseas.

Optus have 4G roaming switched on but do not publish which countries offer it.

In mid-February 2014, Vodafone announced LTE-Roaming for New Zealand, UK and Europe. In August 2014, Vodafone launched LTE-Roaming for New Zealand.

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