Telstra has announced early access to its 700MHz 4G mobile network for Perth and other communities around Australia.

Telstra will conduct commercial trials in Perth, Fremantle and Esperance in Western Australia; Mildura, Victoria; Mt Isa, Queensland; and Griffith, New South Wales.

Telstra had paid $1.3 billion in the Digital Dividend auction for a 2x20MHz chunk of the nationwide 700MHz spectrum. The so-called beachfront spectrum is valuable for its ability to travel longer geographic distances than higher frequency spectrum--making it ideal for regional areas--and for its ability to travel through walls--providing better indoor coverage.

While telcos are not due to turn on 700MHz networks until January 2015, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has granted Telstra and Optus early access commercial licences to do commercial pilots.

Optus has announced early access to its own 700MHz spectrum for Darwin and Perth.

Read more:Optus 700MHz 4G network ready for Perth, Darwin

Customers must have compatible devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) to access the 700MHz network. Other 4G devices will connect to the Optus 1800MHz network.

"After completing successful testing of the network in Perth, Freemantle and regional New South Wales, we are pleased to be able to have customers start trying the new network for themselves when we switch it on in the coming weeks," said Mike Wright, Telstra group managing director of networks.

"The commercial trial will also allow us to test how our use of the 700 MHz band interacts with wireless audio devices that are still able to be used by the community in this spectrum until the end of 2014."

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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