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Thousands of Australians risk losing service in 2G network shutdown

27 Nov 2016

THOUSANDS of Australians could discover their mobile phones are as useless as bricks next week when the country’s largest 2G network is permanently switched off.

It’s the beginning of the end for the network that delivered phone calls during the Sydney Olympic Games but will be completely phased out in less than a year.

Experts warn as many as 250,000 Australians are still using the network and some will be unprepared for its demise.

Telstra will be the first carrier to switch off its 2G network on Thursday next week, at which time anyone using a 2G mobile phone or a 2G SIM card will no longer be able to make phone calls or send text messages. Even calls to emergency services may no longer connect.

Telstra device management director Andrew Volard said the company had been contacting its 2G customers for the past 18 months in “text messages and physical letters” to warn of the network shutdown.

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Govt quashes dedicated public safety mobile network proposal

26 Nov 2016

Will push for capabilities on existing LTE networks.

The federal government has quashed calls from public safety agencies for a dedicated LTE network, today saying it would adopt the recommendations of a Productivity Commission report that suggested using existing telco networks.

In January the Productivity Commission calculated that setting aside spectrum and building a national mobile communications network for the exclusive use of public safety agencies would cost roughly $6.2 billion.

It said buying network services off a commercial provider like Telstra or Optus over a 20-year period instead would save $4 billion.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said the government supported "in principle" the commission’s recommendations.

Fifield said the government would set up a committee of commonwealth, state and territory officials to consider how to implement a nationwide, interoperable PSMB capability using existing telco mobile networks.

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Police seek serial Perth arsonist who set fire to mobile phone towers

24 Nov 2016

A serial arsonist who broke into and set fire to mobile phone towers across Perth's northern suburbs is being sought by police.

Police believe the man deliberately lit fires at telecommunications sites that have mobile phone towers and satellite dishes in Malaga, Dianella and Morley between July and October.

All three fires were set between midnight and 7:00am, police said.

The man forced entry into the sites, which are fenced-off, before starting fires inside the communication huts, damaging electrical components.

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New mobile phone tower on gets the green light

23 Nov 2016

IN A move it says will improve coverage in Bargara, Vodafone has had an application to install a tower on the Bargara Golf Course approved.

Despite Councillor Greg Barnes, whose division is centred on Bargara, opposing the application on the basis of its location, the material change of use was approved with all other Bundaberg Regional councillors giving it the nod at yesterday's ordinary meeting.

Cr Barnes questioned the tower's proximity to houses and argued an alternative site at the Bargara Service Centre on Hughes Rd would have been more appropriate.

He said when he queried a Vodafone representative about why the service centre was unsuitable he was told the visual amenity of the flag pole would be conflicted by the tower, a suggestion Cr Barnes said he found "absurd”.

Despite Cr Barnes decision to vote against the application, it was approved.

A 25m high monopole with three panel antennas along with remote radio units, combiners, feeder, mast head amplifiers and a three bay outdoor unit at ground level adjacent to the facility will now be installed.

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Rural mobile phone coverage at risk in Tassie under proposed changes, says Telstra

23 Nov 2016

THE impact on regional Tasmanian mobile phone coverage and rural black spots could be devastating if proposed changes to services are passed, Australia’s telecommunications giant has warned.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s is holding an inquiry into mobile roaming, which looks at whether Telstra towers should available to competitors, such as Optus and Vodafone in rural and remote areas.

The ACCC launched a discussion paper in September and a draft decision is expected by early next year.

But Telstra is vehemently opposed, saying it would prevent more investments in regional coverage, at a time when it has been rapidly expanding its mobile coverage.

“Regulated roaming would mean our competitors may only have to pay a tiny amount to use a network we have spent billions of dollars building,” a company spokesman said.

“Regulated roaming will not expand mobile coverage at all,” he said.

The ACCC previously considered mobile roaming in regional areas in inquiries held in 1998 and 2005.

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Telstra accused of 'deceit' over mobile phone tower

21 Nov 2016

A KOONORIGAN resident up in arms against the proposed location of a 40m mobile phone tower has accused Telstra of "deceit".

Lismore City Council has also joined more than 50 residents of the area in opposing plans for the tower over visual amenity concerns.

Work on the tower at 1533 Nimbin Rd is set to begin in early 2017.

Funded under the Federal Government's blackspot program, its aim is to alleviate poor mobile phone reception.

Telstra says it believes there is "strong community support for this project".

Area general manager Mike Marom said: "Our overriding objective in participating in the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Program is to maximise new coverage to regions that have little to no mobile coverage.

"Once complete, the planned mobile base station will deliver 3G and 4G mobile coverage to a large part of Koonorigan for the first time, including some of Gordon Road. "

Another planned mobile base station at Coffee Camp will also provide coverage to the northern Koonorigan area and another mobile base station is also planned nearby at The Channon.

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Telstra is already planning for the death of 3G

21 Nov 2016

2G’s demise is only a matter of weeks away, but the death clock is already ticking for 3G as well.

If you’re one of a handful of Australians still hanging onto your old 2G phone, especially if you’re a Telstra customer, it's definitely time to upgrade. The telco giant is killing its 2G services everywhere except Christmas Island on 1 December 2016. And even Christmas Island locals, if they ever plan to visit the mainland, will need to invest in a 3G-capable handset.

And even then it turns out you’re living on borrowed time, slightly. In a presentation to investors today, Telstra has signalled that it is already getting ready to kill off its 3G network around 2020.

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Mid November Update

21 Nov 2016

Optus has reported a big fortnight with 27 new sites most on the east coast with NSW getting the majority, but rural QLD not missing out either. Optus also upgraded 111 sites almost all getting 4G700 as well as some higher 4G bands. Optus also proposed a whole bunch of 4G2600 sites throughout CBD Sydney, perhaps in preparation of their 2G switch off April first 2017. Optus still deploy towers today with 2G which may seem odd, but perhaps it’s not. Right now they have around half of their 900Mhz assigned to 2G and the other half to 3G (3.8Mhz+ paired). Once they switch off 2G I suspect they will simply enable 4G on that part of the band. This will allow all the cheaper phones which don't have 700Mhz to get decent 4G coverage for the first time. Just don't expect blistering speeds though.

Telstra again plods along with 54 site upgrades with NSW again doing well, 4G700 almost exclusively was the target. Telstra also added 7 new towers 5 of which were in QLD alone. Telstra's 2G switch off is in the coming weeks, December 1 of this year so anyone with a 2G handset on Telstra should seriously consider upgrading NOW! tick tock.

Vodafone appears to be taking a breather this fortnight after their big push last fortnight, Upgrading 35 sites with NSW again doing well and adding 7 new sites mostly in conjunction with Optus. Most activity was in Metro areas but rural areas did get a couple of upgrades.

NBN continues its current pace, Activating 11 new sites, and also managed to upgrade a further 12 sites.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by a further 52 sites as Optus keeps Telstra at bay. Optus is ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 1116 sites.

Warning, NBN Rant

Well the market has spoken and have told NBN they don’t want to invest in obsolete technology (surprise surprise). But not to worry, Taxpayers just love paying for things multiple times like then we know we need a 3 lane freeway, but to save a penny or two we decide a 2 lane freeway is best. Then end up paying more than twice as much later when we finally realise that perhaps 3 lanes was probably prudent. Never mind all the disruptions and congestion in the meantime. Corporate welfare at its finest, oops I'm sorry for insulting all those layabout no good nicks ACA love to highlight ad nauseum whilst placing corporations on a pedestal (and we call that journalism).

How many times are we going to pay for NBN? Well much of Telstra was built with the public purse back then it was called Telecom, then we sold it with basically no strings attached, and now NBN is duplicating much of what Telecom built long ago costing valuable time and money while much of Australia is still an internet backwater due to lack of any action by anyone. So the government steps in buying back obsolete infrastructure, at first to scrap it (Corporate welfare yet again), then in their infinite wisdom NBN decided to use it. But in deciding to use it, NBN also needed to go to the market to get the remainder of funds, the market obviously politely declined.

Welcome to "Plantation Australia", but at least we have two company stores, Coles and Woolworth’s, so I guess that’s an improvement! We only need to look across the pond to see an example of how this could have been done and for the better. Where are we on the list of NBN promises? Cheaper? Fail!, Faster? Fail, Better? Colossal fail!, It’s time to stop what we are doing.

Phone service under scrutiny

19 Nov 2016

DEBATE continues about the future of phone coverage in regional Australia as the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission continues its inquiry into domestic mobile roaming.

Submissions close November 25 on the issue of whether customers with different mobile providers are able to use their phones in areas not covered by their provider.

Vodafone chief strategy officer and corporate affairs director Dan Lloyd said, through working across 26 countries within the company, he found infrastructure sharing was one of the most common ways to deal with the issue of regional coverage.

“If it’s not economic for one network, it is not likely to have two or three covering an area,” he said.

The discussion paper states Telstra as the sole provider for more than 1 million kilometres of Australia – an area that has just 0.8 per cent of the Australian population.

While in Adelaide recently, Telstra chief executive officer Andy Penn told Stock Journal allowing other networks access to towers would remove the economic imperative for the company to expand into new areas.

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Internet and NBN complaints up, mobile down, says TIO

18 Nov 2016

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) report launched today reveals 112,518 new complaints in the last financial year. Mobile complaints fell, but Internet and NBN complaints rose sharply.

The TIO serves to aid consumers in resolving disputes with their telco, via or 1800 062 058.

In today's launch of the TIO's 2015-16 Annual Report, the ombudsman Judi Jones stated the total number of new complaints about mobile, landline and Internet services dropped 9.6% in the previous financial year, from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Despite this decline, complaints have subsequently increased by 25.7% in the following quarter from July to September 2016 against the same period in 2015.

The areas causing most anger for telecommunications consumers are billing and payments, contracts, customer service, complaints handling and faults.

By far the National Broadband Network is causing the greatest growth in aggravation for consumers, with almost 100% increase in complaints in the previous financial year. NBN issues now represent 11.9% of all complaints to the TIO.

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