Telstra or Telstra Corporation (often abbreviated as Telstra Corp), (ASX:TLS, NZX: TLS) is an Australian telecommunications and media company, formerly state-owned. Telstra is the largest provider of both local and long distance telephone services, mobile services, dialup, wireless, DSL and cable internet access in Australia. Telstra is based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Formerly Telecom Australia, the company was renamed in 1993 to Telstra. The company has traded domestically and internationally under the Telstra brand, even after privatisation in 2006.
Telstra Mobile is Australia’s largest mobile telephone service providers, in terms of both subscriptions and coverage. Telstra operates Australia’s largest GSM and 3G UMTS (branded as Next G) mobile telephony networks in Australia, as well as holding a 50% stake in the 3GIS Ltd 2100MHz UMTS network infrastructure, shared with Hutchison (Three). As of September 2007, Telstra had an estimated 9.3M mobile subscribers. Telstra Mobile services are available in post-paid and prepaid payment types, known as Telstra Pre-Paid Plus.
Next G, Telstra’s primary 3G UMTS mobile network, built between November 2005 and September 2006, launched in October 2006. The Next G network is the largest mobile network in Australia, providing coverage over 100 times greater than any other 3G provider in Australia and over three times larger than any 2G provider in Australia. The Next G Network is also the fastest cellular network in the world, delivering network download speeds of up to 14.4Mbit/s.
The Next G network was built to replace Telstra’s CDMA network which operated from 1999 until April 28, 2008. Telstra opted to use the 850 MHz band for Next G in preference to the more common 2100 MHz band as it can cover much greater geographic distances for a lower overall investment. This network was implemented under contract by Ericsson as part of a project internally dubbed "Jersey" and launched on 6 October 2006. HSPA technology was included in the network to provide Australia’s first wide area wireless broadband network. The efficiency of the Next G network and its coverage has been challenged and scrutinised since its launch, causing Telstra to go back to areas with average coverage, particularly rural towns to improve its coverage footprint. On January 18, 2008, Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Communications declined the proposal for Telstra to switch off its CDMA network on January 28, 2008, stating that whilst the Next G network provided coverage equal to or better than the CDMA network, the range of handsets available was not yet satisfactory. The Minister gave approval to close the CDMA network on the 15th of April after April 28, 2008. Telstra closed the network nationally during the early morning hours of April 29, 2008.
Telstra’s GSM network was the first digital mobile network in Australia. It was launched in April 1993 on the 900MHz band. The GSM network has carried the majority of Telstra’s mobile subscribers for the last 10 years and has seen numerous upgrades. 1800MHz capacity channels were added to the network in the late 1990s as well as GPRS packet data transmission capabilities. As part of the UMTS Next G deployment, the GSM network was also upgraded to a full EDGE data transmission capability in 2006 providing data transmission capabilities greater than 40kbit/s on its GSM network.
In 1981, Telstra (then Telecom Australia) was the first company to provide mobile telephony services in Australia. The first automated mobile service operated in the major capital cities on 500MHz using the ‘007’ dialing prefix. This network only provided "car phone" capabilities to subscribers as portable handheld terminals were not practical at that time. The first cellular system in Australia offering portable handheld phones was launched by Telstra in 1987 using the AMPS analogue standard on the 800MHz band. This network at it’s peak had over 1 million subscribers, but was mandated by the government to be closed down by the year 2000, partially due to privacy concerns which resulted from the AMPS technology, but also because of arrangements undertaken to secure sufficient interest in the GSM network licenses offered in 1992 to competitors. A license condition placed on Telstra to maintain an equivalent coverage footprint at the time resulted in Telstra deciding to deploy an IS-95 CDMA based network in its place.
Telstra has made a number of attempts to find a market for cellular data products. Early examples consisted of a WAP text based information service made available over GPRS on Telstra’s GSM network, and later, a service called "Telstra MobileLoop" offering video streaming and other content available through its CDMA/1xRTT network. This offering was ultimately abandoned in favour of a GSM i-Mode offering. Telstra was one of the only regional providers to provide i-mode services (running on GSM/GPRS and 3G 2100 MHz WCDMA on one particular handset), licensed from NTT DoCoMo. Telstra ceased offering i-mode services as of December 10, 2007 and allowed any i-mode customers to recontract with a new handset without incurring early termination charges. With the launch of the Next G network, Telstra now offers advanced value added services such as mobile TV (branded Foxtel), and other generic internet services (BigPond Mobile, formerly Telstra Active).
Today, Telstra claims to have found a market for its mobile data offerings, announcing in January 2008 that it has for the first time had mobile data revenue exceed that received from SMS.