Telstra must address competition concerns over 5G rollout by Optus – regulator

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past a Telstra logo adorning a phone booth in the central business district of Sydney

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was concerned about Telstra’s registration of low-band radio communication sites, which could potentially hinder Optus, Singtel’s Singapore-based local unit, from deploying its 5G network in Australia.

Telstra holds licenses for parts of the 900MHz low-band spectrum, which expire in June 2024. These low-band spectrums have the ability to transmit over greater distances and are essential for 5G network deployment.

Telstra and Optus did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

In January, Telstra registered 315 sites in the 900MHz spectrum after receiving notice from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) of Optus’ intention to apply for early access, according to the ACCC.

So far Telstra has deregistered 153 of these sites.

The regulator said Telstra has only used a limited number of these sites to roll out 3G services since registration.

The carrier is now required to deregister sites it registered in January that would have prevented Optus from accessing spectrum earlier.

“Telstra’s commitment will ensure that Optus does not hinder the expansion of 5G reach, giving more Australians access to a range of 5G services in regional and capital Australia,” said ACCC Commissioner, Lisa Carver.

“This is critical as 5G network coverage becomes an increasingly important factor in consumer choice of mobile phones and mobile plans.”

The ACCC said a certified independent person will be appointed to assess interference issues between the Telstra sites registered in January and the sites required for the Optus 5G launch.

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