Vodafone appears to be reporting another big 4G push this fortnight with 183 upgraded sites along with a massive 36 new site activations. Most of the new sites are in conjunction with Optus and in Metro areas, but there are a couple rural sites in the mix as well. 4G850 was a key focus for NSW, QLD, SA, WA as well as Inner Metro VIC, but 4G2100 now also becomes the priority in Victoria also with upgrades in QLD, SA and WA also. Vodafone now have just over 76% of their 4G850 rollout complete, with only 19% of towers now supporting 3G850, also 11% of their towers now support 4G2100. Vodafone appear to be reporting their changes in batches which seems to explain their all or nothing in recent reports, I'm sure the actual rollout is a lot smoother in reality.
Optus comes in 2nd again this fortnight with 105 site upgrades but also an impressive 29 new sites, continuing their fast passed new site deployment with 321 new sites so far this year which is way ahead of either Telstra or Vodafone and still ahead of NBN. What’s even more impressive is the almost 800 new site proposals this year alone which I suspect will soon become Optus' top priority once their 4G700 rollout is mostly complete. Optus currently has just over 70% of sites with 4G700 so by mid next year I suspect that will be closer to over 90% and will allow it to be the main coverage band for 4G. Once that happens phones will no longer drop back to 3G so frequently and with wider coverage of VoLTE the need for 3G will diminish significantly for newer phones.
Telstra with its slow and steady but relentless rollout of 4G700 continues to plod along with 91 site upgrades and 13 new sites. Upgrades are almost exclusively 4G700, but 4G1800 was also deployed on a few sites along with 4G2600. Site upgrades were scattered all over the country in both rural and metro areas but TAS and NT missed out this fortnight. Telstra now has just over 42% of sites with 4G700 so still a long ways to go, Telstra’s 4G1800 rollout is still larger with just over 52%. Telstra’s new sites were mostly in rural areas but also mainly on the east coast of Australia.
NBN continues its slow rollout, Activating 10 new sites, and also managed to upgrade a further 16 sites. NBN now have 2257 sites listed as either active or proposed, this is still just shy of their expected 2300 sites. At this current rate of around 20 activations per month, NBN will complete their deployment in around 3.5 years which is roughly in line with their 2020 deadline.
The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 8 sites as Optus tries to keep Telstra at bay. Optus is ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 1064 sites.