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Vodafone first telco to use NBN for mobile coverage boost

03 Feb 2017

Vodafone has signed the first deal to use NBN’s long awaited Cell Site Access Service (CSAS) product, which will let telcos leverage National Broadband Network infrastructure to boost their mobile coverage.

The telco will use the new NBN service to deliver coverage in Molong, NSW. Vodafone has installed extra antennas on an NBN tower normally used to deliver the network wholesaler’s fixed wireless service in the region.

Voice and data will be transported back to NBN’s Dubbo Point of Interconnection and handed off to Vodafone.

Vodafone’s Molong coverage boost is part of the federal government mobile black spot program, which helps subsidise telcos’ rollout of mobile infrastructure in underserved areas.

Vodafone has long advocated making NBN infrastructure available to telcos, with Telstra’s cellular network still having the widest coverage out of Australia's mobile network operators.

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Cut Telstra cable downs Perth mobile, fixed services

03 Feb 2017

Grappling with third-party fault at same time as exchange fire.

"Severe" damage to a Telstra cable at a Perth construction site overnight has downed services for the telco's local customers, at the time same as the company was struggling to contain the fallout from a fire at a core exchange in Sydney.

Telstra users in the Perth area last night complained of having of no mobile, home phone, or internet services.

The telco confirmed an unidentified third-party had caused "severe damage" to one of its cables at a construction site in the region overnight.

It said its teams were working "around the clock" to get services restored for customers, and told iTnews the cable should be restored and mobile, home phone, and internet services back online this afternoon.

iTnews has sought detail on the cause of the damage.

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End of January Update

03 Feb 2017

This fortnight it seems Vodafone is getting 2017 off with a bit of a bang, activating 22 new sites as well as upgrading 65 more. NSW and QLD got the bulk of the new sites with 8 and 5 respectively. Rural NSW also got 3 of those towers a couple of which were Blackspot towers.

Optus Activated 20 sites with 8 and 6 sites being in VIC and QLD. Many of the VIC sites were all Melbourne CBD and higher frequencies, it seems Optus is planning its own gigabit CBD network after Telstra recently announced its own.  Optus only upgraded an additional 29 sites this fortnight, with 4G900 getting added to several sites. Since Optus hasn’t disabled its 2G services yet it’s possible those are just place holders for when the switch off occurs.

Telstra’s woes seem to go from bad to worse with its recent exchange fire knocking out mobile services across several states.  Telstra does appear to planning a massive rollout of 4G700 as well as 4G900 with an additional 168 proposals continuing on from last reports 80 proposals. Telstra managed 8 new sites as well as 51 site upgrades with 4G1800 being rolled out ahead of the lower bands.

NBN upgraded 6 sites we well as added 7 more. NBN seems to have completed its rural wireless network and will now focus on its outer Metro networks across the country. It seems there will be quite a few premises across the country that currently get ADSL service to be replaced with Satellite, NBN refuses to release those numbers and with good reason as that’s just an appalling outcome for those premises. The end of my street appears to be in that situation.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has decreased by 9 sites as Telstra appears to be ramping up. Optus is still ahead of Telstra however in 4G700 by 1102 sites.

Vodafone’s Berroeta wants ACCC action on mobile roaming

02 Feb 2017

Vodafone Australia boss Inaki Berroeta has warned the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission not to kick the can down the road on regulated ­domestic mobile roaming, urging it instead to take decisive action and ensure stronger ­competition for regional users.

With the competition regulator expected to release a draft determination on the issue in March, Mr Berroeta criticised ­rivals Telstra and Optus for trying to entrench a duopoly without the facts to back up their positions.

“There’s a clear gap in the availability of communication ­services across large parts of ­Australia and we are proposing a way forward, but rather than ­exploring the possibilities or proposing alternatives Telstra and Optus are instead busy stating how bad this is for investment, ” Mr Berroeta told The Australian.

If you look at what has happened in other countries that have used a roaming mechanism there has been no slowdown in investment, so what facts are they using to say that it won’t happen here?

“The ACCC needs to ensure that it doesn’t waste this opportunity because all we hear from Telstra is that the way things are now is good, which is not what ­regional users are saying.”

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Vodafone switches on new site

02 Feb 2017

THE Coalition Government's Mobile Black Spots Program has increased mobile phone coverage in Cooyar with 4G services now available in the region.

On Tuesday, Cooyar became Vodafone's first Queensland site to be switched on as part of the program.

Maranoa MP David Littleproud said the launch of the new site coincided with the Regional Telecommunications Forum as it was an opportunity to engage senior telco leaders while they were in the region.

"The new 4G site has been switched on by Vodafone Australia, which means more than 260 homes will now have mobile phone voice and data access thanks to funding under the Coalition Government's Mobile Black Spots Program,” Mr Littleproud said.

"Coverage has been extended to include about 744 square kilometres, bolster the communication network to include the New England Highway and the Oakey-Cooyar Rd...”

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Fears that phone service blackouts put residents at risk during bushfires

02 Feb 2017

Hornsby Heights residents are fearful regular telecommunication service blackouts could leave them stranded in a bushfire.

Nearly 50 families in Hornsby Heights have been impacted by a series of “service blackouts” from Telstra over several years.

They are particularly fearful for their lives as the fire season continues, without early warning messaging systems available.

Hornsby Heights resident Alison King, who runs an internet-based company from her home, said issues with services had occurred regularly for the past several months.

“We always have very bad mobile signal throughout the area, however, this service has been constantly down for nearly three weeks,” she said.

“The region is prone to fires and reception is required to be provided with local fire alerts.

“We need as much warning as we can get. If the signal was to be down during a fire we might not make it out alive.”

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Member for New England Barnaby inspected the new Vodafone tower in Armidale

02 Feb 2017

On Wednesday Member for New England Barnaby Joyce joined Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta in Armidale to see the new mobile tower investment.

“In the seat of New England we’ve got 36 [mobile towers] which has been a great result of a lot of hard work,” Mr Joyce said.

“What this means is that we’re getting a service that bring people into the 21st century.”

Wollomombi resident Trish McRae said that for a long time her community had felt disadvantaged and unsafe.

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Telstra customer lodges complaint over 'suspect business practice' after being offered inducement

01 Feb 2017

A Telstra shareholder on the New South Wales mid-north coast has lodged several complaints for what he says is "suspect business practice" by the telco.

In January, John Morse, a former CEO of Tourism Australia and resident of Thora, west of Bellingen, had a complete telecommunication blackout for five days.

"We had no phone and no internet," he told ABC Local Radio.

"Hundreds of phone calls to Telstra resulted in the same response — that there was no network problem, that we should just turn our phones off and then on."

Mr Morse became increasingly frustrated with Telstra's response and consequently filed complaints with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, NSW Fair Trading and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Two weeks later he received a letter from Telstra.

"In that letter, which is available for anyone to see, Telstra admitted that there was a massive network fault and that there was no plan to upgrade the tower," he said.

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How Wi-Fi works on a plane, and why only some airlines have it

01 Feb 2017

For all its woes, air travel has always offered a brief digital detox – a precious few hours away from the squall of emails, messages and app notifications. But no more.

In-flight Wi-Fi is getting faster and cheaper, and is an increasingly common offering on budget and flagship airlines alike. "Sorry I missed your email – I was on a plane" is an excuse that simply doesn't cut it anymore. But how does in-flight Wi-Fi actually work?

To simplify, there are two ways for an internet signal to reach your device at 35,000 feet. The first is via ground-based mobile broadband towers, which send signals up to an aircraft's antennas (usually on the base of the fuselage).

As you travel into different sections of airspace, the plane automatically connects to signals from the nearest tower, so there is (in theory at least) no interruption to your browsing. But if you're passing over large bodies of water or particularly remote terrain, connectivity can be an issue.

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Island reception ‘hurts course’

01 Feb 2017

Patchy mobile reception is causing issues for businesses on King Island, a resident has declared.

Debbie Fisher, manager at the world-famous Cape Wickham Golf Course, said the “intermittent” phone coverage on the Telstra network was a problem.

“One day you’ve got one bar and the next day you’ve got four bars'

“The eftpos machine also takes ages on some days.”

Despite having a mobile phone tower on the Cape Wickham golf course Ms Fisher is concerned what might happen if there was an emergency.

Ms Fisher said it had been an ongoing issue for several weeks.

“It affects the course sales because then you have to manually write the [card] numbers down after the person has gone and if you don’t get the eftpos and running the same day it puts your till our the next day,” she said.

“A lot of people also don’t like leaving their credit card details with people.”

She said Telstra had not spoken with her about the issue despite her repeated requests for help.

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