Australia - Mobile Broadband - LTE and 5G

Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

The three LTE networks operated by Optus, Telstra and Vodafone have developed rapidly during the past two years as these players strive to provide an infrastructure capable of meetings customer demand for mobile broadband services. As well as aiming to attract new customers, these players are also trying to reduce churn the experiences of Vodafone in recent years has shown how damaging it can be for an operator when their networks do not provide reliability. Increasingly in an era leaning further to mobile data than voice, these networks must offer sufficient performance.

Technological developments have also progressed, with operators using aggregated channels to improve data throughput. Since the beginning of 2015 Optus and Telstra have been able to utilise their 700MHz spectrum assets, with which they aim to provide about 98% population coverage by the end of 2016. Vodafone is relying on upgrades to its existing concessions, and by mid-2015 it provided about 95% coverage in metro areas. Following these improvements to network coverage and capabilities, the market has seen a steady migration of subscribers from 3G to LTE.

These upgraded networks face daunting data demands from customers, many of whom make use of data-intensive graphics, videos and files shared across the networks. In addition, popular OTT services such as Netflix, a company which alone had attracted about one million customers since launching in Australia in March 2015, provide streaming of content over mobile devices. While networks can at times be strained, the MNOs are continually adding capabilities and applications in an effort to reduce their overall costings. Customer preference for WiFi from homes and workplaces has meant that mobile broadband traffic is largely offloaded to fixed-line infrastructure.

This report provides data and analysis on a range of mobile technologies in Australia, as well as an assessment of network developments. It also assesses the prospects for operators as they extend their LTE deployments beyond the major urban areas and deeper into rural areas. The report contains a range of valuable key statistics on network data throughput, operator strategies and emerging technologies.

Key developments:

Telstra planning wholesale LTE for MVNOs by mid-2016, contracts Ericsson to develop road-map to 5G; Google's Project Loon teams up with Telstra to trial LTE; mobile data traffic expected to grow six-fold to 2018; Telstra to close 2G network by 2016, trials LTE-A carrier aggregation technology providing data at up to 450Mb/s, launches 4GX network marketing for 700MHz LTE services; Vodafone re-allocates existing 850MHz spectrum for LTE; Vodafone to trial VoLTE with a view to a 2015 commercial launch; Optus aiming for 98.5% population coverage with LTE by end-2016; Vodafone LTE reaches 95% metro population coverage; iiNet initiates LTE mobile plans; government encourages public engagement through mobile platform; WiFi tethering among customers holds back growth in dedicated mobile broadband data cards; report includes recent market developments.

Companies covered in this report include:

VHA, Vodafone, 3, Optus, Huawei, Telstra, Vividwireless, Ericsson, EnergyAustralia, SingTel, Unwired.

1. Synopsis
2. High-speed mobile networks
2.1 High-speed packet access (HSPA)
2.2 Long-term Evolution (LTE)
2.2.1 Background information
2.2.2 Other players
2.3 Moving from 4G to 5G
2.3.1 Challenges of 5G
2.3.2 Operators collaborate on 5G
2.3.3 Will telcos be able to harness the new business opportunities of 5G?
3. Australian mobile broadband operators
3.1 Optus
3.1.1 Overview
3.1.2 Co-sharing sees network expansion
3.1.3 LTE solutions
3.1.4 LTE-TDD network and TDD/FDD-LTE network rollouts
3.1.5 Unwired and Vividwireless
3.2 Telstra
3.2.1 Network overview
3.2.2 Network speed, coverage and services
3.2.3 Telstra HSPA
3.2.4 Telstra LTE
3.2.5 Telstra 4GX
3.2.6 LTE-Advanced (LTE-A)
3.2.7 Mobile broadband on the LTE network
3.2.8 5G developments
3.2.9 Wholesale LTE
3.3 Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA)
3.3.1 Background
3.3.2 HSPA network
3.3.3 LTE 1800MHz
3.3.4 LTE 850MHz
3.3.5 LTE-A
3.3.6 Vodafone gets further rural network expansion
3.3.7 Network contracts
3.3.8 VoLTE
4. Mobile broadband market
4.1 Overview and analysis
4.2 Data growth
4.3 Mobile industry gets some spectrum certainty
4.4 Neutral broadband connections for HSPA
4.5 Will LTE steal the broadband revolution?
4.6 Applications overview
4.7 Government moving to mobile engagement
4.8 Mobile video failing to make traction with LTE
5. Related reports
Table 1 Average 3G mobile broadband speed data in Australia 2008 - 2015
Table 2 Average LTE speed by MNO 2012 - 2015
Table 3 Telstra LTE data cards in service 2010 - 2014
Exhibit 1 The Power of 5G
Exhibit 2 Key issues for mobility industry

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