TPG lays claim to world's first 5G SA network at 700 MHz

Australian mobile operator TPG Telecom wants to offer reliable indoor 5G coverage and boost the overall range of its network.

Nick Wood

July 5, 2021

2 Min Read
5G in City

Australian mobile operator TPG Telecom wants to offer reliable indoor 5G coverage and boost the overall range of its network.

To that end, it has begun rolling out standalone 5G at 700 MHz, and claims to be the first operator in the world to do so. The network has gone live initially in select areas of Sydney.

“TPG Telecom’s low band 5G will expand our 5G coverage, supporting our goal of reaching 85 percent of the population in Australia’s top six cities by the end of the year and changing the way people and things connect to the TPG Telecom 5G network,” said Barry Kezik, executive general manager, mobile and fixed networks at TPG Telecom, in a statement.

As previously disclosed by TPG, those top six cities refer to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra, as well as the aforementioned Sydney, of course.

Nokia is supplying the equipment; specifically its triple-band AirScale remote radio unit (RRU), based on its ReefShark 5G chipset. In addition to 5G, it offers simultaneous support for legacy 3G and 4G services across all of TPG Telecom’s low-band frequencies.

“We have a long-standing partnership with TPG Telecom, and we have jointly developed our unique triple band radio solution specifically for them,” said Robert Joyce, CTO of Nokia Oceania. “Today we get to see the result of that joint effort and collaboration which will deliver premium wide area 5G SA coverage for TPG Telecom and its customers.”

This broad outdoor – and reliable indoor – coverage will at some point later in 2021 be augmented by high-capacity millimetre wave 5G. TPG in April splurged A$108.2 million ($81.5 million) on 26-GHz spectrum, winning 400 MHz in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and 600 MHz in Brisbane and other metropolitan and regional areas.

TPG wants to use that spectrum to bolster its fixed-wireless service, which was due to soft-launch for selected customers on its 3.6-GHz spectrum last month.

The operator is in something of a hurry when it comes to its 5G rollout. TPG faced a long period of uncertainty after agreeing to merge with Vodafone Hutchison Australia, as competition authorities subjected the deal to heavy scrutiny. The A$15 billion tie-up was agreed in 2018, but a Federal Court didn’t give them the go-ahead until February 2020. The merger was finally completed last July. During this time there was also the non-trivial matter of the government banning the deployment of Huawei-made 5G equipment, giving operators pause for thought.

Meanwhile, rivals Telstra and Optus have been busy with their respective 5G deployments. Telstra’s network covers 200 towns and cities, while Optus revealed recently that it has 1 million 5G devices on its network. TPG needs to catch up quickly.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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