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Vodafone to kill 2G network

01 Oct 2016

Will refarm spectrum towards 4G data services.

Vodafone will switch off its 23 year-old 2G network in exactly one year's time to reallocate spectrum to data traffic and reduce the load on its 4G network.

The company is the last of the big three Australian mobile telcos to decommission its legacy 2G network; Optus last year set its network closure date for April next year, while Telstra's 2G network will be turned off before the end of 2016.

The Vodafone 2G network first launched to customers in 1993. Twenty-three years later it only carries 0.07 percent of the telco's data traffic and two percent of its voice traffic.

In comparison, Vodafone's 4G network now handles 76 percent of the telco's total data traffic.

The telco intends to repurpose the 2G spectrum to ease some of the load on its 4G network.

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Router problem behind Vodafone network outage

26 Sep 2016

Flow-on effect from 4G outage hits 2G and 3G services

A problem with a router disrupted 4G services on Vodafone’s mobile network yesterday evening.

“At around 6.30pm yesterday, we experienced an issue which impacted part of our network, resulting in intermittent disruption to voice, text and data services,” a Vodafone spokesperson said.

“Mobile services were progressively restored from 10.45pm, with the majority of customers fully restored at 1.35am.”

When 4G services were unavailable, Vodafone customers’ mobile services should have automatically downgraded to 3G and 2G services. However, network congestion affected the process.

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Telstra to offer emergency services priority on LTE

22 Sep 2016

Telstra has announced plans to launch in December functionality on its LTE network that will give emergency services organisations (ESOs) priority access to network capacity.

To use the service, dubbed Telstra LANES Emergency, ESOs will replace the SIMs in their devices with LANES SIMs. When the network becomes congested portions of the LTE spectrum, across all three bands used by Telstra, will automatically be reserved for LANES users.

Telstra has trialled the service, developed in conjunction with Ericsson, several times at events where the network would likely be under stress: At the Woodford Folk Festival, an annual event in Queensland that attracts around 80,000 people over several days and the 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane, both in conjunction with the Queensland Police and the 2015 AFL Grand Final.

Telstra's national general manager public safety and security, Alex Stefan, said the service could provide government organisations with significant cost savings by giving them the opportunity to increase their network capability, coverage and reach without building their own private network.

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Telstra, Ericsson live 5G trial attains 20Gbps download speeds

21 Sep 2016

Telstra and Ericsson have achieved download speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps during the first live trial of 5G in Australia, with the trials conducted in a real-world outdoor environment using Ericsson's 5G radio testbed.

The 20Gbps speeds were split between two mobile devices, with each one getting around 10Gbps download speeds thanks to the use of Massive Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO), which sends multiple channels of data at the same time, allowing users to have peak performances simultaneously.

In addition, a moving vehicle achieved download speeds of between 1Gbps and 6Gbps thanks to the use of beam-forming technology, in which antenna arrays steer a beam to where a user is.

In what Mike Wright, group managing director of Networks at Telstra, called a "quantum step in capabilities", both Telstra and Ericsson said that 5G is not simply about connecting people, but also about connecting machines to machines and people to machines.

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Mid September Update

19 Sep 2016

This fortnight Telstra continues with its 4G700 rollout, upgrading 72 towers as well as deploying 12 new sites, 4 sites each in QLD and SA. The upgrades are fairly evenly placed all over the nation with no real bias to any state or metro vs rural areas.

Optus continues with their 4G700 rollout along with a mix of higher bands, with 56 tower upgrades. Optus also added 15 new towers with 9 alone in NSW, most towers were totally new without pre-existing services by other providers. Rural QLD also got a 3 new towers enabled which might be the beginning of a larger QLD rural rollout by Optus.

Vodafone upgraded 42 sites this fortnight continuing its various 4G rollouts including its 4G850 and 4G2100 spectrum reallocation. Most of the upgrades are focused in and around metro areas but a few rural areas got upgrades also. Vodafone also managed 6 new sites including several that were 2G only (but with proposed 3G and 4G), seems smaller sites along congested rail sites in metro Sydney.

This fortnight NBN finally wakes from its recent slumber, Activating 19 new sites all of which are along the east coast including Tasmania. NBN also managed to upgrade a further 5 sites.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has decreased by 15 sites as Telstra powers on. Optus is still ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 1101 sites.

Telstra Almost Hits 1Gbps Download, 130 Mbps Upload Speeds

11 Sep 2016

Up to 979 Mbps on the downlink and up to 129 Mbps on the uplink — that’s what confirms has been achieved in a User Datagram Protocol test (used for realtime applications, like voice and video over the internet) of Telstra’s live LTE network.

That’s an improvement of almost 200 MBps since February, and one step closer to Telstra’s 1Gbps goal.

On top of just-shy-of-a-gigabit download speeds, Telstra is getting close to tripling the current maximum uplink speed seen in most LTE networks globally. Increasing social sharing and video uploads is driving the need for higher uplink performance for smartphone users across the network, Telstra says, and improving uplink speeds is also important for remote and onsite workers use of enterprise cloud applications for unified communications — especially video-conferencing apps.

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ACCC to scrutinise in-country mobile roaming

07 Sep 2016

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched an inquiry into whether it should regulate in-country mobile roaming, where an individual outside the coverage footprint of their ‘home’ telco uses another telco’s network to make or receive calls.

The ACCC revealed today it would conduct an inquiry into whether to declare a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service. Declaring a service allows the ACCC to set default conditions under which an access seeker will be able to use infrastructure operated by a carrier or carriage service provider.

“Consumers are increasingly relying on mobile services and the issue of coverage and a lack of choice in some regional areas is a particular issue that has been raised by a number of groups,” ACCC chairperson Rod Sims said in a statement.

The federal government has attempted to boost mobile coverage in regional Australia through its mobile blackspot program, the first round of which helped fund 429 Telstra base stations and 70 Vodafone base stations.

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Regional Communications Minister denies weakness or inefficiencies in mobile phone black spot program

07 Sep 2016

The Regional Communications Minister has brushed off criticism of the rollout of the mobile phone black spot program, despite an audit office report questioning its overall "impact and effectiveness".

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report found the Federal Government lacked appropriate method in its rollout of the $385 million first round of the black spot program.

The ANAO also found the program funded "areas that already had existing coverage" and had no framework to measure its performance.

The mobile phone black spot program is being coordinated by the Department of Communications in response to a 2013 election commitment to improve mobile phone coverage in remote and regional areas.

The audit office has handed its recommendations to the Department of Communications.

Federal Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash said the department had already addressed most of the issues outlined in the ANAO report.

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End Of August Update

03 Sep 2016

This fortnight Vodafone continues where they left off last time with their rollout of 4G2100, upgrading a staggering 323 towers. ACT, QLD, SA and WA continue to be the focus for this rollout with 80 or more towers upgraded in each those states and 34 for the ACT, this rollout is focused in Metro areas only. With all that going on Vodafone also managed to activate an impressive 19 new towers with 7 of those in QLD alone.

Optus also picked up the pace with 150 site upgrades continuing their 4G700 rollout along with a mix of other 4G bands. Rural areas featured heavily as well as QLD being a major focus with 50 upgrades alone. What’s also impressive is in that time Optus also activated a staggering 52 new towers on the main land with 17 in NSW and 15 in QLD alone!!! These new sites were mainly clustered around major metro areas. Optus also past the 6000 tower mark now with Vodafone just over 5000 towers and Telstra just over 7500 towers.

Telstra continues to plod along with its 4G700 rollout, with 145 site upgrades with VIC getting 45 upgrades alone, Telstra also activated 8 new sites in that time. There is nothing remarkable to report other than Telstra is progressing steadily but surely.

This fortnight NBN continues to fall off a cliff with 1 new sites and 1 upgraded site. NBN is only 2/3 complete in its wireless rollout so this is quite a remarkable drop in its rollout speed.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 20 sites as Optus picks up its pace. Optus is still ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 1116 sites. Optus also now has over 4000 towers with 4G700 so yet another milestone for Optus this fortnight.

Audit finds flaws in mobile blackspot program

03 Sep 2016

A report from the Australian National Audit Office has criticised some elements of the government’s mobile blackspot program (MBSP). A key flaw of the program was that its first round “did not sufficiently target funding toward the expansion of coverage where coverage had not previously existed,” the audit found.

The government in June last year announced that Telstra and Vodafone would receive funding under the $100 million first round of the blackspot program.

The first round covered 429 Telstra base stations and 70 Vodafone base stations and according to the government would deliver mobile coverage to 68,600 square kilometres. Telstra received funding of $94.8 million, while Vodafone was awarded $15.2 million (including GST).

In addition to the federal funding, the round included $275 million in co-contributions (from state governments and third parties in addition to the telcos).

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