Mid June Update

21 Jun 2017

Optus continue to rollout new towers at breakneck speed with an additional 29 new towers with VIC getting 11 and NSW and QLD getting 7 each. These appear to all be full towers featuring lower bands (not the "4.5G towers" recently seen in CBD locations), and are spread around mostly regional areas. Optus also managed to upgrade a further 45 sites with VIC again featuring heavily with 19 alone. 4G is still the major focus with many sites now receiving 4G900 also and Optus is still investing in it 3G network as well. Optus also now has (for a limited time) a mobile data sim for $70pm which gives 100GB of data, this writer is now using that as my primary internet connection and I'm achieving 30mbs in both directions fairly consistently, I also got my NBN date which is 12 months from now, finally!

Telstra upgraded 58 sites this fortnight with its 4G2600 network getting some traction finally which is about time! This is most likely part of their "4.5G" push also, but 4G700 continues to be a major focus also. Telstra installed 5 new sites with rural WA getting 3 of them.

Vodafone continues to plod along slowly with 6 new sites and 18 site upgrades, with Vodafone continuing to add 4G bands to increase capacity.  4G1800 is also being added now which is something new although they appear in metro areas and not a result of the recent 1800mhz spectrum auction.

NBN activated 14 new sites as well as upgraded a further 2. Outer metro areas now appear to be NBN's focus but several rural sites are still getting activated.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 15 sites as Telstra's focus shifted away to 4G2600. Optus is ahead of Telstra however in 4G700 by 1098 sites.

ACMA mulls 5G future for 3.6GHz spectrum

24 Jun 2017

The potential re-farming of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band for use in fixed and/or mobile broadband services could begin as soon as soon as Q4 2017, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The communications regulator today released an options paper on the future use of 3.6GHz spectrum.

The ACMA said its current preferred option is to “establish arrangements optimised for wide-area broadband deployments (be they mobile or fixed)” over all the spectrum available in the band (125MHz — the band covers the 3575-3700 MHz frequency range). Spectrum licenses would be allocated via auction.

Current users of the spectrum, including satellite earth stations in metropolitan areas and point-to-multipoint users in regional areas, such as some wireless Internet service providers (WISPs), would be affected by changes to how the spectrum is allocated.

To continue reading the article: click here. (computerworld.com.au)

As NBN And Mobile Networks Roll Out, The Productivity Commission Wants To Scrap Landline-Access Program

21 Jun 2017

The Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation was set up to ensure that all Australians have access to a landline. The Federal Government's Productivity Commission just a released a report calling the $3 billion over 20 years initiative "anachronistic and costly", recommending it should end by 2020.

The report points to the "sizable public investment" in NBN infrastructure that will provide high-speed (voice-capable) broadband "to all premises (on request) across Australia by 2020 at a quality that is, for the most part, superior to what has been available" as one of the reasons for ending the program.

"Rapid developments in telecommunications technology are transforming people's lives," the report reads. "The growing demand for ubiquitous digital connectivity provides a strong case for reform that reflects evolving policy, market and technological realities."

The Productivity Commission says the NBN has been designed to narrow the city–country digital gap - with cross-subsidies from commercial to non-commercial services within a funding envelope.

To continue reading the article: click here. (gizmodo.com.au)

The Secret Ingredient Driving Disruptive Mobile Technologies

21 Jun 2017

Chances are that you’ve witnessed the mobile revolution taking place in media and marketing. No offence to those still using a flip phone or those who might be too young to remember a world without their smartphone.

Apple may often be quoted as the key driver for this revolution with the launch of the iPhone in 2007, but the ultimate base for the success of mobile technology has been, and will be, mobile network standards.

Since the early 80s when the 1G mobile network launched and initially solely allowed for voice calls there has been a pattern of 10-year mobile network innovation.

    1G (1982) – Voice calls
    2G (1991) – SMS
    3G (2001) – Internet access with text and images
    4G (2010) – Rich media web services (like HD video streaming)

To continue reading the article: click here. (which-50.com)

A mobile ‘bill’ of $60m a year

21 Jun 2017

The group championing improved mobile and data coverage in rural and regional areas is calling for a federal government commitment to spend $60 million a year on the Mobile Black Spot Program or an equivalent.

Member of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) and chief executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network Teresa Corbin said more funding was needed to meet the demand for mobile coverage in rural and regional areas.

The government recently released the indicative roll-out schedule for Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spots Program. There were 39 new and upgraded towers for NSW and 266 nationwide. It committed $60 million “leveraging a total investment of $213 million”.

Locations for towers for Round 3 of the progam have not been finalised. The government will not fund future rounds of the program until telcos finish building towers under the three rounds.

To continue reading the article: click here. (westernmagazine.com.au)

Towers a benefit, but more work needed

21 Jun 2017

NSW Farmers believes the Western region has “again missed out” in the latest stage of the federal government’s program to improve connectivity for mobile phones and data.

The organisation is concerned that even with the government’s Mobile Black Spot Program “there is still a very large bulk of regional NSW that is without mobile coverage”.

It was commenting after the release of an indicative roll-out schedule for new and upgraded towers in Round 2 of the program.

The Central West is to get seven towers located at Ballimore and Westella near Dubbo, Hargraves near Mudgee, Napoleon Reef near Bathurst, South Cadia near Blayney, Summer Hill Creek in Cabonne, and The Yellow Mountain near Condobolin in the Lachlan Shire.

The seven were included in 39 new and upgraded towers for NSW and 266 nationwide. The government committed $60 million “leveraging a total investment of $213 million”.

To continue reading the article: click here. (westernmagazine.com.au)

Patchy suburbs miss out on Fed program

21 Jun 2017

Suburbs in the Cities of Rockingham and Kwinana have again been overlooked in the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot program, much to the ire of local representatives.

The Turnbull Government last week announced the recipients of improved mobile coverage in round 2 of the scheme, with 756 new or upgraded base stations to be deployed across Australia at a cost of $220 million.

Despite well-publicised coverage issues in suburbs such as Baldivis, Leda and Wellard, no funding has been allocated to the region.

“Those areas of Australia classified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as ‘Major Urban’ (i.e. with a population of 100,000 or more) were ineligible to receive a mobile base station through rounds 1 and 2 of the program,” a spokesperson for Federal Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash said.

“Rockingham and Kwinana fall into this category.

To continue reading the article: click here. (thewest.com.au)

Gateshead phone tower verdict deferred

21 Jun 2017

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new mobile phone tower in Gateshead will be discussed with residents at a site inspection, after Lake Macquarie councillors voted to defer a decision on whether it should be built.

The prospect of the 37-metre tower being built on Bulls Garden Road has caused a backlash from some residents of nearby Whitebridge, who have made dozens of submissions to the council about its perceived ugliness and health risks.

The tower would improve voice and data services to Optus and Vodafone customers in the surrounding suburbs, council staff have said, but the telcos’ development application was called before the elected council rather than determined under delegated authority.

Staff recommended approving the tower.

To continue reading the article: click here. (theherald.com.au)

New tower to combat black spot

21 Jun 2017

Yarrabandinni will receive a new mobile tower delivered under the second round of the Coalition Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.

The Yarrabandinni tower is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2017 and will be constructed by Optus.

Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker believes that these new towers have the potential to improve quality of life for those living in these areas.

The new tower will improve phone reception in the mountainous area.

To continue reading the article: click here. (macleayargus.com.au)

Rogue cell phone surveillance gives rise to mobile threat defense

21 Jun 2017

Researchers have created a device using off-the-shelf components that can sniff out controversial cell phone surveillance devices, known as IMSI-catchers or StingRays, used by federal and state law enforcement as well as hackers.

The International Mobile Subscriber Identity-catchers have not only been used to locate mobile devices but also to sometimes eavesdrop on users, send spam or upload malware, according to University of Washington (UW) security researchers.

"The threats remain the same when looking at enterprises: tracking and, under certain circumstances, eavesdropping are possible through this attack," said Dionisio Zumerle, a Gartner research director for Mobile Security. "The attack requires technical expertise and equipment that was once hard to find; today it is easier and that is the main source of concern."

IMSI-catchers or cell-site simulators work by pretending to be a legitimate cell tower that a smartphone would typically use. The catchers trick the cell phone into sending  identifying information about its location and how it is communicating. The portable surveillance devices range in size from a walkie-talkie to a suitcase and in price from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to UW.

To continue reading the article: click here. (computerworld.com.au)

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