Telstra

Telstra eyes 75% coverage for 5G by June ‘21

10 August 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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Telstra’s CEO Andrew Penn has outlined the telco’s 5G rollout and coverage plans, in which he revealed that 75% of the Australian population will be able to access its 5G services by June 2021.

Further, there will be no separate fee for 5G network access.

Writing an open update last week, Penn (pictured) said: “With 5G critical to Australia’s future prosperity, the good news is Telstra is a global leader in this new technology. Our 5G network already covers around one-third of the population.

“Today I am pleased to announce that we intend to extend that to 75% of the population by June next year,” he added.

His announcement followed Telstra’s March pledge to adapt capex to enable an accelerated 5G roll out. The company brought forward $500 million of capital expenditure planned for the second half of FY21, into calendar year 2020.

“This investment means we have been able to accelerate our roll out of 5G, while injecting much-needed investment into the Australian economy at this time,” Penn added.

In his letter, Penn highlighted the economic and technological gains of 5G, in addition to the growing benefits highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting global lockdowns. He wrote: “5G will take the activities we have all had to suddenly grow used to doing digitally during COVID – telehealthworking and studying from home, eCommerce – to a whole new level.”

“Is it worth it?”

On the topic of 5G devices and data allowances, Penn asked: “What does all this mean for Australians wondering if they should or could upgrade their smartphone to 5G? Is it worth it?”

Announcing customer developments, he said the Telstra network already counts 210,000 connected 5G services – before the launch of the 5G iPhone. Penn quoted consumer-initiated tests using Speedtest in Australia from April-June 2020, which confirmed that 3G/4G iPhones were running faster on average on Telstra’s mobile network than any of its competitors.

“Just imagine what a 5G iPhone will do. Telstra’s leadership position in 5G means that we are well placed to make these available for our customers as soon as they come into the market,” he wrote.

On the topic of data allowances, mobile plans have been refreshed to include “up to 30GB of extra data and 5G network access on selected plans for customers with a compatible device in 5G areas”.

Telstra said that after running a free 5G trial over the last year it will not implement its planned separate fee for 5G.

Penn confirmed: “We will be inviting eligible existing customers to move to the new plans before the end of September, and for those who choose to sign up we will credit them with the difference for the next 12 months.

“This is in addition to the fact that all of our plans feature no lock-in contracts and no excess data charges, unlike some of our competitors, where there can be up to $1500 of excess data charges tucked quietly behind the upfront charges.”

In other 5G news, Telstra launched its first 5G device, the HTC 5G Hub, in collaboration with its 5G network partner Ericsson, in May 2019. This July, Telstra Enterprise confirmed that its customers would become the “first in the world” to purchase and deploy Cradlepoint 5G wireless network edge solutions.