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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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Vodafone expands 4G services to now reach 23 million Aussies

04 Apr 2016

Vodafone says it has reached a significant network milestone with its footprint now reaching almost 23 million Australians.

The telco says that under its national spectrum refarm project it has converted its entire holding of 850 MHz spectrum to increase its 4G network by more than 20%, with its 4G footprint now extending to more than 95% of the Australian population.

Low-band spectrum, known as ‘L850’, provides higher quality indoor mobile coverage as the lower frequency signal penetrates buildings more effectively than higher frequency signals, and Vodafone says this complements the 4G coverage of its 1800 MHz spectrum, and capable devices will also now aggregate the 850MHz and 1800 MHz bands for an optimal mobile experience on the Vodafone network.

Vodafone Chief Technology Officer Benoit Hanssen said the company had invested heavily to deliver a world-class 4G network, and was proud to back this investment with Australia’s only Network Happiness Guarantee.

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End Of March Update

04 Apr 2016

This fortnight period goes to Vodafone as they finish up their 4G roll out to rural areas. The focus this time around was Victoria and Tasmania with 104 sites in Victoria and 43 sites in Tasmania upgraded. All of these sites had 4G850 switched along with 3G850 disabled. 4G900 was also turned on in a few areas that I would assume were experiencing high load and/or congestion. Overall Vodafone upgraded 204 sites as well as enabled 9 totally new sites in this 2 week period. Other states also got some upgrades either finishing of the 4G upgrade in the case of NSW and QLD, or in preparation for it like in SA and WA.

Optus continues their fast rate of knots with 110 sites upgraded and 8 new sites. QLD was still a major focus with 40 sites alone being upgraded. 4G700 continues to be the main focus along with 4G2600 however other 4G bands are still being deployed in metro areas also 4G2300 as well a few 4G1800.

Telstra is plodding along slowly, I'm guessing they have been busy with all their outages that maybe things have had to slow a little in other areas. But they managed to upgrade 67 sites as well as add 5 new sites. 4 of the 5 sites were in metro areas, and Telstra continues to focus mainly on 4G700 as expected.

NBN activated 27 sites as well as switched a few sites from 4G2300 proposals to 4G3500 proposals in areas around the outskirts of metro areas.

The low band 4G gap now continued to grow again for Optus as Telstra has slowed down their rollout for whatever reason. Optus now has 1230 more 4G700 towers than Telstra and increased their lead by 21 sites in this 2 week period.

First Vodafail, now Telstruggle. Is Telstra in strife?

03 Apr 2016

TELSTRA’S recent triple outage could ruin its reputation for a long time. Three times in the past two months, the phone network supposed to be Australia’s best has fizzed out.

For a nation that lived through Vodafail in 2010, the prospect of Telstruggle in 2016 is frightening.

But it would be even more frightening for Telstra. The network has spent a long time and a lot of money positioning itself as the best telecommunications brand there is.

Companies like Vodafone, Telstra and Optus all compete to be seen as the best. They spend a lot of money on ads.

Everywhere I go I see billboards for Optus, featuring Usain Bolt, the sprinter. This is a switch from the animals they used for a long time — they had elephants, meerkats, orangutans, a whole menagerie. The point was to emphasise they were cuddly and nice.

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Optus customers on hold as Home Zone blackspot base stations abandoned

31 Mar 2016

Optus is refusing to back down on plans to scrap its Home Zone indoor mobile base stations at the end of March, despite growing customer complaints regarding the telco's replacement mobile VoIP app.

Leon de Jonge runs a small marketing and design consultancy from home, living in an Optus mobile blackspot 20 kilometres west of central Brisbane. To access the mobile network he relies on an Optus-issued Home Zone "femtocell" indoor mobile base station, which mimics a mobile tower but diverts mobile calls and data via his home broadband connection.

The Australian communications watchdog has cracked down on unlicensed femtocells, which can interfere with nearby devices; but Optus, Telstra and Vodafone have all introduced licensed mobile base stations in the last few years to assist customers in mobile blackspots and help improve indoor coverage.

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