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NBN shifts 40k premises off satellite to offer more data

14 Dec 2015

Wants to avoid congestion issues on long-term satellite.

NBN will move 40,000 premises around Australia off its long-term satellite service and onto fixed wireless and fixed line services to free up capacity for other satellite users.

In late October it was revealed NBN planned to set caps for users on the LTSS after experiencing capacity issues on its interim satellite services.

This new fair-use policy would see a standard plan of 75GB introduced, with 100GB and 150GB premium options, to mitigate against congestion.


NBN head of fixed wireless and satellite Gavin Williams said that by adding around 240 extra fixed wireless towers, the network builder could optimise load on the satellite and improve capacity.


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Telcos get second chance to bid in Aussie mobile blackspot program

10 Dec 2015

Public asked to nominate sites with no coverage.

Australia's telecommunications companies will get another chance to bid for tens of millions in funding from the government to build mobile towers in regional blackspots as the second round of the national mobile blackspot program opens.

The federal government previously committed $60 million to the second phase, and competitive bidding will take place early next year.

Before bidding can take place, the federal government needs to build a national database of blackspot sites across the country.

It today asked members of the public to nominate rural and regional areas that currently have inadequate mobile coverage.

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NBN launches 50Mbps/20Mbps fixed wireless in the bush

07 Dec 2015

Fixed wireless is coming to more than 500,000 Australian homes and business in regional and rural Australia from today.

Boasting that NBN Co’s new fixed wireless broadband solution is 30% faster than that in Ireland, a country NBN Co says is our ‘next best fixed wireless global peer.’

NBN Co’s fixed wireless system uses radio signals from NBN’s ground stations, delivering ‘fast broadband by transmitting data to equipment inside and outside the home.’

Designed ‘to provide access to wholesale speeds of up to 50mbps download and 20mbps upload,’ NBN Co says this new network isn’t like a traditional mobile wireless service ‘where speeds can be affected by the number of people moving into an area.’

Instead, NBN Co’s fixed wireless service ‘is designed to deliver fast and reliable broadband to regions which often experience lags and drop-outs.’

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End of November Update

06 Dec 2015

This fortnight the data shows Vodafone continuing to deploy 4G throughout rural Queensland and once switched on will have more low band 4G towers in the state than Optus and even Telstra. As yet no announcements from Vodafone have been made but I would expect to see that very soon. Vodafone upgraded 135 towers this period more than Telstra or Optus.

New towers this period picked up to more normal levels, Telstra adding 9 new towers, Optus 8 and Vodafone 5. Optus however made proposals on 24 new towers, some of which were on existing NBN and Telstra towers, these sites would no doubt help Optus solve their network "depth" issue.

NBN this period is continuing their relatively fast pace activating 25 towers and proposing a further 25 towers. Northern Central Victoria was a focal point for the activation's, while the new proposals focused in areas on the outskirts of metro areas. NBN now have 1169 active towers with a total of 1818 active or proposed towers.

Telstra upgrades this month continued their fast pace roll-out of 4G services mostly in the lower 700Mhz band but also included some higher bands in some areas. Telstra upgraded 113 sites this period.

Optus lags behind once again with only 78 upgrades. However 4G 700Mhz was the main focus, no doubt trying to hold of Telstra for as long as possible.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra's has closed further to 1126 by a more modest 21 sites as Optus picked up the pace but Telstra continues to power on.

NSW government mulls unified public safety comms

02 Dec 2015

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales has completed a review of emergency services telecommunications, and has decided it wants a single statewide network.

The review (PDF), conducted by the NSW Telco Authority, concludes there's no point to having individual agencies own and operate their own networks: the authority wants the services to come from the private sector.

In the language of the public service, what the authority wants is to “harness the expertise that exists across agencies and make better use of the resources of private industry in order to provide reliable, secure and innovative solutions to our frontline personnel”.

In 2013, the country's emergency services lost the long battle to secure 20 MHz of spectrum for emergency services.

However, the authority hopes that Australian carriers like Telstra and Optus can still find some unused airwaves behind the lounge for emergency services, and is “seeking ind

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ACMA releases 1800 mhz band for remote areas

02 Dec 2015

The Australian Communication and Media Authority has released an information paper to telecommunications services providers on spectrum licensing and regulatory arrangements for the 1800 MHz band in regional and remote Australia.

The ACMA has revised existing regulatory measures for the band and developed access arrangements for remote Australia utilising telecommunications service apparatus licences (PTS licences) which it says will support the deployment of mobile services in remote areas.

To assist with an orderly release of licences in the band, the ACMA says it has defined a list of ‘priority assignments’ for access to the 1800 MHz band, and under this approach, applicants can only apply for licences in the specific channels assigned to them.

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Mid November Update

23 Nov 2015

The big news this fortnight is Vodafone’s preparation for migrating its 850Mhz spectrum in rural Queensland (along the east coast) from 3G to 4G. I have not seen any official announcements however it would appear the switchover could happen any time now. All towers that are ready for the 4G switchover of the 850 band have 3G 900 active to provide coverage for older handsets. People with older handsets that don't support 4G may see a slight degradation of service, I'm sure Vodafone would encourage people onto 4G services.

New towers this period was very quiet, managing only 7 new sites between all 3 mobile providers with Telstra adding 4 towers, Optus 1 and Vodafone 2. NBN activated 17 new sites keeping their rollout moving along if not a little slower than last period. NBN now have 1150 active towers with a total 1798 towers active or proposed, adding a further 17 in the past couple weeks.

Moving onto Tower upgrades and Vodafone just piped out Telstra with 106 upgrades to 105 respectively. Vodafone’s focus was of course as already mentioned 4G 850, while Telstra was focused on 4G 700Mhz and to a lesser extent 1800Mhz and even lesser extent 2600Mhz. Optus was extremely quite with only 49 upgrades, with 700Mhz and 2600Mhz a main focus but also getting around to adding 3G services to a few towers.

With Optus' release of their "Wireless Home Broadband" product and their aggressive rollout of 2300Mhz (metro areas) and 2600Mhz (nationally) finally makes a whole lot of sense. Their plan is to attract all those people in NBN limbo, where for whatever reason ADSL is not an option but NBN is years away. Those people can now purchase an ADSL like product from Optus giving them 50GB of data for $70 a month, and when NBN arrives I'm sure Optus will be more than happy to migrate you to their NBN product. This is very smart and could make quite a dint into Telstra’s fixed line market share. Telstra is also now in a position where it cannot match this product with the lack of highband activated towers. Telstra has the spectrum, but has potentially missed the boat on making use of it in this NBN transitional period. Telstra would be at least 12 months behind if it decided to make an offering like this. Vodafone on the other hand doesn’t have the spectrum, however TPG has some 2600mhz spectrum (probably not enough however) and has suggested in recent articles its willingness to take on NBN in its wireless space. That coupled with its recent Vodafone partnership could see a new challenger to this space.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra's has closed further to 1147 by a whopping 59 sites as Optus really slows down their 700Mhz rollout and Telstra powers on.

TPG Telecom considers fighting NBN with mobile networks

20 Nov 2015

TPG Telecom has warned it might spend more on mobile networks that compete against the national broadband network if the federal government goes through with proposals to tax internet users in the city for the cost of building broadband in the bush.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull set up the Bureau of Communications Research (BCR) in 2014, which last month recommended a $6 monthly tax be levied on every single high-speed internet line running in Australia.

It claimed this was the best way to pay for the $9 billion cost of delivering satellite and fixed-wireless internet services in rural and regional areas. 

The proposal is facing major opposition from companies such as TPG Telecom and Vocus Communications, which want to build high-speed broadband networks that can compete against the NBN in urban areas. The BCR said the tax could force networks competing against the NBN to raise their wholesale prices by 22 per cent.

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So is it 4.5G or LTE-Advanced Pro? Either way, it’s pretty damn quick

12 Nov 2015

Huawei's Mobile Broadband Forum While BT and the UK government may think that 10Mbps is plenty of speed, nobody else does it seems, and the mobile world is now gearing up for 1Gbps. In fact, the so-called 4.5G even has an official name, LTE-Advanced Pro.

Whatever it’s called, the ability to increase the bandwidth beyond the 150Mbps of standard 4G comes from three technologies, namely carrier aggregation, more advanced modulation, and an increase in antennas.

Carrier aggregation is up and running on EE and Vodafone now (the networks combined), with typically 20MHz of spectrum from each of two frequencies – say 800MHz and 1800MHz in the case of EE – to provide more bandwidth and up to 300Mbps.

If the two carriers are contiguous you can get better performance. The LTE spec would technically allow lots of carriers to operate, but the cost of the spectrum means most people are looking to four as a sensible limit.

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Telstra, Ericsson achieve five-carrier LTE aggregation

10 Nov 2015

Telstra and its technology supplier Ericsson claim to have achieved a world-first with a test that used four separate radio frequency spectrum bands with five carriers for very high long term evolution-advanced (LTE-A) bit rates.

The trial at an undisclosed location used Telstra's production network, with a Cobham Aeroflex TM500 4G network testing device as the receiver.

It used 20 MHz each in the 700 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz ranges, as well as two 20MHz bands in the 2600 MHz frequency range, for a total of 100MHz aggregated bandwidth.

Five carriers and 100MHz are the maximum under the current LTE-A specification.

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