Telstra suspends job cuts, accelerates 5G rollout to face COVID-19 crisis

Telstra 5G acceleration to be funded by 2021 capex

Australian carrier Telstra has decided to put a job cut program on hold and accelerate investments in 5G deployments due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in Australia.

In a statement, CEO Andrew Penn said: “We will be putting job reductions from our T22 change program on hold. While we will continue to focus on our productivity program to reduce underlying fixed costs by AUD 2.5 billion ($1.47 billion) annually by the end of fiscal year 2022, we will not announce further job reductions over the next six months.” “In fact, we will be adding to our team to help manage call centre volumes and better serve our customers during this time, by recruiting an additional 1,000 temporary contractors in Australia,” he said.

Penn also noted that the company will increase and accelerate investments in the 5G field. “We are also bringing forward AUD 500 million of capital expenditure planned for the second-half of fiscal year 2021 into calendar year 2020. This investment will increase capacity in our network and accelerate our roll out of 5G. This will inject much needed investment into our economy at this time,” Penn said.

“We continue to look at every aspect of our business to see what we can do for our employees, customers, suppliers and the economy more broadly, while we maintain a focus on long term value creation,” the executive added.

Penn also said that 25,000 Telstra employees are currently working from home.

Penn said the full impact from the Covid-19 virus on Telstra was difficult to assess at this time, noting: “Like many businesses it is expected to be material and will depend on how the situation and its impact on the economy and our customers evolves.”

Telstra’s 5G network already provides coverage to selected areas in 32 major and regional cities and remains on track to deliver 5G into 35 cities by mid-year. The telco is currently using its spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band to provide 5G technology across Australia.

Earlier this month, Telstra  announced plans to allow customers early trial access to millimeter wave  5G spectrum with the launch of a mmWave 5G-enabled device by mid-year.

Telstra said internal testing of the technology had begun and work was underway to roll out trial mobile sites in selected areas ahead of an expected auction of mmWave spectrum in 2021.

Telstra customers’ early access to the next-generation 5G technology will be in selected areas initially. It will be made possible through ACMA 26 GHz scientific licenses that can be used for trials ahead of the spectrum auction early next year.

 

 

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