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Unwired returns as Vividwireless on Optus 4G LTE

23 Jun 2016

Australian wireless broadband company Unwired has returned as Vividwireless, offering an $89 unlimited monthly plan on the Optus 4G LTE network.

The brand launched nationally today, labelling the unlimited plan as the best wireless broadband deal in the country, while also offering 10GB for $29 and 40GB for $59 monthly plans.

All services have speed capped at 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.

Vividwireless general manager Claude Brown told media at the launch that the service is currently only offered in metropolitan areas in state capitals and warned potential customers to check coverage for their address online before signing up.

The Huawei-manufactured Vividwireless home gateway will be sold 'ready to plug in' with a pre-installed SIM through exclusive resellers The Good Guys and Harvey Norman. The device retails for $199 on a month-to-month agreement, or for free online if a 24-month contract is signed.

The Vividwireless brand has been active since 2010 in the Western Australian market as a broadband provider based on WiMax technology. However, the company is using its new 4G LTE capability for a national comeback.

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Telstra to roll out 135 rural 4G base stations

20 Jun 2016

Commitment under govt's mobile blackspot program.

Telstra will deliver 135 4G small-cell base stations in rural areas across all seven Australian states as part of its involvement in the federal government's mobile blackspot program.

The cellular base stations will provide 4G data-only service.

Under round one of the government program to improve cellular coverage in the regions, Telstra said it would commit $165 million of its own money to boost the mobile footprint in rural areas.

The telco did not specify what sort of 4G LTE capabilities and performance the new small-cell base stations would have. Telstra's group managing director of networks, Mike Wright, said the rollout would open the door to emerging 4G technologies such as voice over LTE.

Telstra is receiving $94.8 million from the federal government to roll out 429 base stations in total across Australia's regional and remote locations.

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Mid June Update

18 Jun 2016

Vodafone has really slowed down now that their major 4G push is over. This fortnight they only upgraded 25 sites and installed 5 more new sites.

Optus on the other hand is trying to keep up with Telstra's late but significant push, with a respectable 73 sits upgrades as well as 11 new sites. The interesting thing for optus however is they proposed 71 new sites, almost all in rural areas. I think finally Optus have realized that coverage is very important and if they are to compete with Telstra then they are going to need to have a similar footprint.

A recent OpenSignal Report put both Telstra and Vodafone ahead of Optus on 4G, Vodafone recently overtook Optus in low band 4G sites but has since slipped back. Telstra has long under-reported their 1800Mhz 4G sites which could also account for the findings. I think Optus is disadvantaged by that report because many of Open Signals users may not have phone capable of 700Mhz which will favor both Vodafone and Telstra. It's a fantastic real world example that not only bandwidth is important but also frequencies matter as well, and Optus is playing catch up in that area.

Telstra upgraded 102 sites as well as installed 5 more new sites. Telstra's upgrades focused mainly with 700Mhz as their rollout ramps up, many sites getting 700Mhz enabled recently had 1800Mhz reported as active as well, but I suspect that those 1800mhz sites have been active for some time. The rollout is focused slightly more towards metro than rural areas.

It was a big fortnight for NBN also enabling 37 new sites and upgrading a further 3 sites.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has reduced by 25 sites as Telstra ramps up its 4G700Mhz rollout. Optus is still ahead of Telstra in 4G700Mhz by 1224 sites.

Telstra tops major telcos in mobile service download speeds

16 Jun 2016

TELSTRA has topped the list of Australia’s major mobile service providers in terms of download speeds.

The company has been plagued with network outages and technical issues in recent months that have left affected customers more than a little frustrated. But the latest data analysing Australia’s mobile networks has given the company reason to smile.

OpenSignal, a company that specialises in wireless coverage mapping, released its report on the state of the country’s mobile networks Wednesday. The report gathered data on the 3G and 4G networks of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone from more than 15 million tests conducted on the handsets of 7900 OpenSignal users.

From the beginning of February to the end of April, OpenSignal users operated a mobile app which constantly ran in the background at low power, noting changes in network conditions and performing dozens of individual tests.

“This gives us an incredibly rich dataset that allows us to build up a complete picture of network experience,” the report said.

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Nokia to Oz: 5G will need fibre, and lots of it

16 Jun 2016

Latency, capacity, reliability and new network architectures won't be easy to deliver

Any time the politics of the National Broadband Network arises, someone with a bagful of buzzwords and a spoonful of clue will claim that wireless is going to make fibre obsolete.

It shouldn't be necessary to refute that old chestnut, but it is, so Vulture South is pleased that Nokia's Oceania head of mobile networks has cold-watered the claim in a presentation to the Communications Alliance.

He told the gathering that 5G needs fibre, simply to deliver the kind of capacity both the industry and the public expect, but also to carry the predicted growth in machine-to-machine communications.

According to telco newsletter Communications Day, Barnett said the procession of press releases about air interface speed tests aren't of much interest to network architects. They're more interested in what the next round of standards – and the services they will need to provide – mean for how they build networks.

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Did too much VoLTE-age at Telstra shock its mobile network into crashing?

11 Jun 2016

A trade publication has claimed an "exclusive" suggesting that an attempted upgrade to bring VoLTE to Telstra was the cause of recent mobile network meltdowns. (UPDATE: Telstra has contacted iTWire and categorically denied that VoLTE had anything to do with its outages. See the Telstra statement at the end of this article).

Trade publications often have some seriously good sources internally at companies, but whether they’re always right or wrong is in question – and I don’t know the answer to that.

The ChannelNews site has claimed that "senior Telstra executives have admitted to ChannelNews that the reason for the carrier’s constant mobile network crashes are a direct result of attempts by the network to upgrade to Voice Over LTE, or VoLTE".

The article also states that "last year Telstra started to upgrade their 4G network to accommodate VoLTE technology which is a standardised system for transferring traffic for voice over LTE".

Indeed, I wrote about Australia’s first VoLTE voice and first VoLTE video calls back on 3 November 2014 in an article on iTWire that you can read here.

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Productivity Commission seeks input on regional telecoms subsidy

07 Jun 2016

The Productivity Commission (PC) has begun seeking input on the future of the Universal Service Obligation (USO): A subsidy intended to ensure that Australians in remote areas have access to a basic landline telephone service (a Standard Telephone Service, or STS) and payphones.

The USO is jointly funded by government and an industry levy, with Telstra, which delivers the USO under contract with the government, receiving around $300 million a year.

The USO has been a continuing source of frustration for Telstra’s rivals. Optus last year estimated Telstra had received “subsidies from industry under the USO arrangements that total some $882 Million since 1997”.

Vodafone has condemned the USO as “hugely inefficient” and “obsolete”, particularly given the popularity of mobile phones and the ongoing rollout of the NBN (the telco has pointed to mobile black spot funding as an example of a program that can address the telecommunications needs of rural Australia).

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End Of May Update

05 Jun 2016

For the past fortnight Telstra continues to be quite busy, upgrading 140 sites and installing 12 more new sites. Telstra has begun its ramp up and I expect this to continue for the foreseeable future. Telstra continues to roll out 4G1800Mhz ahead of most 4G700Mhz deployments, I'm not entirely sure why Telstra gives preference to 4G1800Mhz over 4G700Mhz it seems strange, however its likely many of these sites have been active for some time and its only now Telstra is finally catching up on their reporting.

Optus has slowed their roll out, with 63 sites upgraded and 12 new sites. I have noticed that Optus is now proposing new sites in rural areas with 4G1800Mhz which will become available around mid next year, one example is here. 4G700Mhz continues to be the main focus however higher frequencies were also added to many sites also.

Vodafone is now plodding along at the slowest pace of the 3, with 46 site upgrades and 7 new sites 4G850Mhz continues to be the focus with some 3G900Mhz, 3G2100Mhz and 4G1800Mhz thrown in the mix also. Vodafone announced earlier this week that they are building 32 new rural sites on top of the 70 sites they are building as part of the round one of the blacksopt program.

NBN activated 30 new sites as well as upgrading 8 sites adding 4G3500Mhz to existing 4G2300Mhz sites.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has reduced by 29 sites as Telstra ramps up its 4G700Mhz rollout. Optus is still ahead of Telstra in 4G700Mhz by 1249 sites.

Vodafone to splash $9m on 32 new regional mobile sites

01 Jun 2016

Investment on top of mobile blackspots program.

Vodafone plans to invest $9 million into the rollout of 32 new mobile phone towers across rural and regional Australia, with most to be operational by the end of the year and all expected to be online by the end of 2017.

The vast majority of the new towers will be built in New South Wales, along with seven in Queensland, four in Tasmania and two in WA.

No new towers will be delivered to Victoria, the ACT or the Northern Territory.

The 32 locations are in addition to the 70 base stations the mobile carrier is set to deploy as part of the first round of the federal government’s mobile blackspots program, as announced in June last year.

The 19 towers in NSW will be built at Toormina, Taminda, Berrigan, Yeoval, Cudal, Tallimba North, Rushes Creek, Bendemeer, Kootingal, six sites across Coffs Harbour, and four sites in Tamworth.

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Labor raises “glaring omissions” in mobile blackspot funding

27 May 2016

The Labor opposition has said that, while it supports the Government’s pledge to add a further $60 million to the Mobile Black Spot Programme if reelected, allocation of funding across Australia is missing out areas that need it most.

In a statement on 24 May issued by Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare and Shadow Regional Communications Minister Stephen Jones, Labor said: “Like the Turnbull Government’s promise to deliver the NBN, the Mobile Black Spot Programme has over-promised and under-delivered.”

According to the figures provided by Labor, of the 499 mobile towers funded in Round 1 of the programme, only 21 had been switched on as of 4 May.

Of those 499, it added, 416 towers “are in Liberal and Nationals’ electorates”.

Furthermore, Labor pointed to some “glaring omissions” in the programme, suggesting that there are locations that should have been funded but were not.

It cites as an example the electorate of McEwen in Victoria – one of the most fire-prone areas in the country. Over the last six summers, McEwen has seen the same number of major disasters, including being the worst hit in the Black Saturday fires of 2009.

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