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Mid May Update

24 May 2016

Telstra appear to be really ramping things up with many proposals for 4G700Mhz coming in, 322 new proposals to be exact. In the past 2 week telstra managed 17 new sites as well as upgrades to 139 existing sites. Telstra seems to be rolling out 4G1800Mhz in many areas ahead of 4G700Mhz. Optus is still building new sites faster with 25 new sites, and is trying to keep up with 95 site upgrades. Vodafone with their accelerated rollout complete, managed 12 new sites as well as 68 site upgrades.

NBN activated 29 new sites. NBN now has 1339 active sites which also brings NBN to a total of 2173 sites either active or proposed. Their total has reduced since the last report with a few sites being removed from the rfnsa data.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 37 as Telstra focused on bands other than 700mhz. Optus, increasing their lead is now ahead of Telstra in 4G 700Mhz by 1278 sites.

IoT: Vodafone partners with Huawei for narrowband trials

18 May 2016

Vodafone has carried out wireless network trials using the emerging Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT) standard.

NB-IoT is an under development 4G standard for connecting the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). NB-IoT is expected to be finalised this year. It is an ultra-low-power standard intended to allow connected devices to be powered for many years using a small battery.

Vodafone today offered details of its NB-IoT trials, which were carried out in Melbourne in partnership with Huawei. The trials were conducted late last month.

The trials tested the ability of devices using the standard to receive a signal over long distances and through solid barriers.

“Based on our testing in the Melbourne CBD, NB-IoT would be able to penetrate two to three double-brick walls, enabling connectivity of objects in underground carparks and basements,” Vodafone’s CTO Benoit Hanssen said.

“We also achieved extended coverage during tests in suburban Melbourne, with distances of up to 30 kilometres.”

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Vodafone calls for boost to mobile blackspot funding

16 May 2016

Vodafone has called for an increase to the funding being made available through the federal government’s mobile blackspot program.

The second round of the program, which co-funds mobile base stations in rural and regional areas, is currently underway.

There is up to $60 million available in the second round. In the $100 million first round both Telstra and Vodafone received funding. The first round funded 499 new or upgraded base stations, with work on 78 mobile sites due to be completed by the end of next month.

Vodafone today called for voters in regional seats to put pressure on MPs for more funding.

“It’s time for Australians in regional and rural areas to send a clear message to their local MPs and candidates that action needs to be taken to end the mobile class divide between cities and rural and regional Australia,” the telco’s chief strategy officer, Dan Lloyd, said in a statement.

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Optus launches VoLTE to major Australian cities

10 May 2016

Until now Optus Australia’s 4G LTE services have been used for fast data transfers with voice traffic going over 3G or earlier. VoLTE allows users with compatible devices to make and receive calls over the 4G network.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are the first devices available with Optus VoLTE, with plans to include more devices underway.  Optus post-paid consumer and SMB customers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Canberra CBD metros areas will be among the first to see the rollout of VoLTE.

Dennis Wong, Acting Managing Director of Networks at Optus said, “VoLTE provides customers a number of benefits including high definition quality voice calls, faster call connections and the ability for customers to multitask on their device while browsing and making a call over a 4G connection.”

“We’ve been testing and tweaking VoLTE for the best customer experience and we’re excited Optus customers will start to see the benefits of this technology on our 4G Plus network,” Mr Wong Said.

Why is VoLTE better?

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Vodafone to pay $594.3 million for spectrum

10 May 2016

Vodafone is to shell out $594.3 million to buy 2 x 10 MHz of the unsold 700 MHz spectrum after previously withdrawing from the auction to acquire spectrum in the 700MHz range supporting mobile broadband coverage in regional Australia.

The telco withdrew from the auction in 2013 leaving it to Telstra and Optus to purchase in the 700MHz band. At the time Vodafone said it would only take part in the 2.5GHz auction, not the more expensive 700MHz spectrum.

But, the Department of Communications said on Monday it has received an offer for $594.3 million from Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) to acquire 2 x 10 MHz of the unsold 700 MHz ‘digital dividend’ spectrum. The total payment is to be made by Vodafone in three instalments over three years.

The Government has said Vodafone’s offer to acquire 2 x 10 MHz of the unsold 700 MHz spectrum is an “unsolicited proposal” for a licence term of 11 years and 9 months.

As reported by iTWire, the Federal Government announced in May last year it had directed the media watchdog ACMA to set competition limits on the amount of spectrum that can be bought by any one operator– against Telstra’s recommendation that no limits be set.

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No new money for black spots in the federal budget

04 May 2016

Rural communities hoping to see more money spent on reducing mobile phone black spots will be disappointed by this year's federal budget.

The Coalition has not allocated any new funding for its Mobile Black Spot programme, whereby it works with telecommunications companies and state governments to help build new phone towers in regional areas.

Dodgy or non-existent mobile reception and slow internet are a major problem for regional communities, who complain that poor coverage is a serious safety issue and hurts local businesses.

Everywhere from remote central-west Queensland to within 30 minutes of the nation's capital, residents are increasingly frustrated with black spots and painfully slow internet.

There are 6000 nominated mobile black spots across the country and the Federal Government's programme aims to fix 499 of them.

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OPINION: Feeding frenzy looms as Telstra loses blood

03 May 2016

They can smell blood.

Optus and Vodafone, long regarded as Telstra’s baby brother and nephew (respectively) in the mobile phone war, are both circling their injured prey.

The $17 billion mobile phone war is getting spicy, and you, the consumer, are set to benefit.

Let me explain. Quite often I’m asked who’s the best mobile phone carrier to go with.

And until now the answer has always been relatively simple.

Because of its reach in regional areas, and unrivalled network, my explanation was that if you travel out of the metropolitan area, or live in regional WA, Telstra was probably the way to go.

The excess fees Telstra charged were justified by the company’s ability to give you a signal when others couldn’t. That fact hasn’t changed that much, apart from Vodafone and Optus expanding their reach a little more.

What has changed is the perception around Telstra. Like bagging out Shane Watson, it has long been a national pastime to get stuck into “bloody Telstra”.

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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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