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End Of April Update

03 May 2016

The last fortnight has been somewhat quiet with Vodafone seemingly now finished with their main 4G rollout. Vodafone only upgraded 49 towers with only 5 new sites also. Telstra had the most upgrades with 81 and Optus came in in the middle with 65 site upgrades. Optus did however manage 11 new sites, but Telstra also managed 7 new sites. Optus does however seem to be going for blackspot funding for rural QLD with even more proposals in outback QLD which can be seen here. This is in addition to 23 sites reported mid February.

NBN activated 15 new sites, with one 3500Mhz only site also being activated as well. NBN now has 1309 active sites which also brings NBN to a total of 2184 sites either active or proposed.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 9 as Telstra focused on bands other than 700mhz. Optus is now only ahead of Telstra in 4G 700Mhz by 1241 sites. The leader in low band 4G however is now Vodafone with 4 sites more than Optus, although Vodafone uses 4G850Mhz, its comparable to 700Mhz, especially since its believed 700Mhz is not at full power for either telstra or Optus. This is to give it a similar footprint to 3G850 allowing devices to drop back to 3G in order to make calls. Once VoLTE is deployed more widely I would expect power levels on 700Mhz to increase allowing it to offer slightly superior coverage over 850Mhz.

Vodafone AU loses market share as Telstra, Optus rise: Kantar

02 May 2016

Vodafone now has 15.2 percent total mobile market share, while Telstra holds 41.1 percent and Optus 22.7 percent, with the no-contract segment rising again.

Market research company Kantar has published the latest statistics on mobile market share in Australia, revealing that Vodafone Australia, Virgin Mobile, and TPG have all lost customers while Optus and Telstra have grown subscriber numbers.

Telstra now has a 41.1 percent total market share, Kantar said, up from the 39.7 percent recorded last year despite its three network outages. In prepaid, it holds 41.7 percent of the market, up 4.1 percentage points year on year; in post-paid, it holds 43.6 percent, up 1.2 percentage points; and in no contract, it holds 30.1 percent, down one percentage point.

Optus was recorded as having 22.7 percent of the total mobile market as of the end of March, having grown by 1.4 percentage points. Prepaid remained the same, at 21.5 percent, while post-paid grew by 2 percentage points, up to 24 percent, and no contract jumped by 3.8 percentage points to 20.6 percent.

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Government inquiry to consider scrapping Telstra’s USO

29 Apr 2016

Terms of reference released for Productivity Commission review.

The federal government has asked the Productivity Commission to examine options for overhauling the universal service obligation (USO), including potentially eliminating the subsidy altogether.

The USO currently requires Telstra to provide all Australians a basic telecommunications service, along with access to payphone services, subsidised by the federal government and through a levy on telecommunications providers.

The inquiry’s terms of reference, released today, acknowledge that in the past, ubiquitous fixed-line telephone services have historically been a “fundamental part of Australian society”.

However, a range of factors, including technological innovation, the increased use and sophistication of mobile services, broadband data services (including voice over IP) and the NBN rollout have led to reduced demand for fixed-line voice and payphone services.

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Vodafone prepares to roll out 4G to MVNOs

29 Apr 2016

Vodafone will make 4G services available to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) over the next few months, the telco has confirmed.

Vodafone wholesale customer Kogan Mobile announced this morning that it would offer 4G services to its customers by June.

Kogan said that it would not charge its customers extra for 4G access.

“Vodafone has invested billions into their network in recent years, and being able to bring its fast 4G speeds to Kogan Mobile customers will make our prepaid options even more attractive,” said executive director David Shafer.

“4G coverage is available in all major metro locations and selected regional areas across Australia.”

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Telstra delivers 4G wholesale early for MVNOs and their customers

28 Apr 2016

Anyone who uses a Telstra MVNO like Aldi Mobile, Woolworths Connect, Telechoice and Better Life can now start to enjoy Telstra 4G speeds at long last.

Originally, Telstra was going to switch on access to 4G services for its MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) customers from June 2016.

However, Telstra has today announced it has switched this capability on early, although the 8000-ton telcorilla actually gave Boost and Boost’s customers access to 4G way back in September 2015 - although it is important to note that Boost is not a Telstra Wholesale customer but one of its 'retail' customers - Boost and Telstra have a special relationship separate to Telstra's Wholesale relationships.

Of course, Telstra keeps its even faster 4GX network for itself and its direct customers, but this is to be expected, otherwise Telstra would be undercutting itself completely for no good reason.

In any case, today’s development for the customers of all those other Telstra MVNO Wholesale means they can ‘now start to enjoy 4G coverage reaching at least 92% of the Australian population with a maximum download speed of up to 100Mbps.’

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Telstra complaints are rising but Optus is the worst, reports telecommunications ombudsman

28 Apr 2016

THE telecommunications watchdog today confirmed what we all suspected: complaints about Telstra services are rising.

Despite common perceptions, Australia’s most popular phone provider attracted more complaints than its competitors Vodafone and Amaysim, and more than the industry average, in figures released this afternoon.

Optus won the wooden spoon, however, with the highest rate of complaints and the highest jump in complaints.

New complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about Telstra now sit at 6.4 for every 10,000 services, it reported today, up from 4.9 complaints in the last three months of 2015.

By comparison, Vodafone attracted a rate of 3.7 complaints in every 10,000 services, Amaysim just one complaint, and the industry average sat at 6.2 complaints.

The TIO said reports about telecommunications providers rose 29 per cent as a proportion of services at the start of this year, though “summer weather events” frequently affect these results.

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Mid April Update

17 Apr 2016

The past 2 weeks have been very busy for Vodafone finishing up their 4G roll-out nation wide. 356 towers were upgraded or at least the switch was flicked and those changes finally reported. NSW had 172 changes alone, with SA (77) and WA (63) also high on the list, and NT also getting some attention (26). 65% of all Vodafone towers now have 4G enabled and I suspect we will continue to see more towers in the coming months as everything is finalized. 3G850 is enabled on less than half their towers now and I expect this to plummet further in the coming months. Vodafone also managed an impressive 14 new towers most being outside the main metro areas. Its great to see Vodafone investing in rural areas.

Telstra was also busy with 115 upgrades as their 4G700 roll-out continues as a brisk pace. NSW as also a focus of attention with 44 upgrades alone, non metro area, costal as well as rural inland got the bulk of the upgrades. Telstra only managed 3 new sites all of which were in rural areas.

Optus seems to be taking a little breather upgrading only 77 sites for this period spread fairly evenly across the nation. 4G700 continues to be the focus but you also see some back fill with some sites getting 3G upgrades and even 2G still being enabled on some sites. But optus still managed to install 23 new sites, that is over 2 sites a day which is equivalent to Telstra rolling out NextG. The bulk of these sites was in rural areas so not only is Optus adding capacity but also coverage.

NBN activated 11 sites as well as proposing 6 more. This brings NBN to a total of 2171 sites either active or proposed. NBN has also activated their first 4G3500Mhz tower here.

The low band 4G gap remains around the same this period. Optus now has 1232 more 4G700 towers than Telstra and increased their lead by 2 sites in this 2 week period.

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone compete on stadium mobile coverage

16 Apr 2016

The three primary mobile telcos are aiming to improve speed and connectivity for customers in ANZ Stadium and the MCG using cloud RAN, 3G and 4G upgrades, and LTE-B.

Australia's three biggest mobile telecommunications providers have been pouring resources into serving customers inside of notoriously network-absent stadiums, with Telstra working on the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Optus and Vodafone on ANZ Stadium.

According to a blog post by group managing director of Telstra Networks Mike Wright, the telco is upgrading both its 3G and 4G mobile networks at the MCG for the 100,000 fans who attend the stadium during events.

"Whether its round one of the AFL season, Grand Final Day, or it's the Boxing Day Test Match, spectators will enjoy the sort of experience they expect when they use their mobile device to stream video, browse the internet, upload photos to social media, receive and make telephone calls, or access content on the AFL Live pass," Wright said on Monday.

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Vodafone reveals Mobile Blackspot rollout schedule

05 Apr 2016

Vodafone has released the full rollout schedule for its 70 base stations to be built in regional areas of New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria under the first round of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

Vodafone’s Chief Strategy Officer, Dan Lloyd, said Vodafone’s rollout of mobile black spot sites is “progressing well, with the first location at White Rock Mountain, west of Glenn Innes, in New South Wales switched on in December 2015.

A further 28 sites in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania will follow this year, with all 70 sites to be completed by the end of 2017.

Lloyd said Vodafone is investing heavily in regional communities which are seeing expanded and improved coverage, the opening of new stores and the launch of strategic partnerships such as that with the National Farmers’ Federation.

He said Vodafone has also been working with local communities, councils and MPs to investigate opportunities under round two of the Mobile Black Spot Programme and is participating in the selection process which is currently underway.

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Inside Telstra's network woes: what happened

04 Apr 2016

Execs detail cause of outages in bid to reclaim customer trust.

Telstra executives have opened up about the causes of three major outages that hit Telstra users in the past two months in an effort to regain the trust of the telco's vast customer base.

Australia's largest telco was forced to offer two 'free data' days to compensate users for three significant outages since the start of the year.

Yesterday's free data day saw customers slam the network to download a record 2686 TB in the 24 hour period, a 46 percent increase compared to the amount of data consumed during the February free data day.

Speaking to the CommsDay Summit today, and later to a media briefing at Telstra HQ, the telco's chief operations officer Kate McKenzie said the company was making every effort to ensure such incidents do not occur again.

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