The big news this fortnight is Vodafone’s preparation for migrating its 850Mhz spectrum in rural Queensland (along the east coast) from 3G to 4G. I have not seen any official announcements however it would appear the switchover could happen any time now. All towers that are ready for the 4G switchover of the 850 band have 3G 900 active to provide coverage for older handsets. People with older handsets that don't support 4G may see a slight degradation of service, I'm sure Vodafone would encourage people onto 4G services.
New towers this period was very quiet, managing only 7 new sites between all 3 mobile providers with Telstra adding 4 towers, Optus 1 and Vodafone 2. NBN activated 17 new sites keeping their rollout moving along if not a little slower than last period. NBN now have 1150 active towers with a total 1798 towers active or proposed, adding a further 17 in the past couple weeks.
Moving onto Tower upgrades and Vodafone just piped out Telstra with 106 upgrades to 105 respectively. Vodafone’s focus was of course as already mentioned 4G 850, while Telstra was focused on 4G 700Mhz and to a lesser extent 1800Mhz and even lesser extent 2600Mhz. Optus was extremely quite with only 49 upgrades, with 700Mhz and 2600Mhz a main focus but also getting around to adding 3G services to a few towers.
With Optus' release of their "Wireless Home Broadband" product and their aggressive rollout of 2300Mhz (metro areas) and 2600Mhz (nationally) finally makes a whole lot of sense. Their plan is to attract all those people in NBN limbo, where for whatever reason ADSL is not an option but NBN is years away. Those people can now purchase an ADSL like product from Optus giving them 50GB of data for $70 a month, and when NBN arrives I'm sure Optus will be more than happy to migrate you to their NBN product. This is very smart and could make quite a dint into Telstra’s fixed line market share. Telstra is also now in a position where it cannot match this product with the lack of highband activated towers. Telstra has the spectrum, but has potentially missed the boat on making use of it in this NBN transitional period. Telstra would be at least 12 months behind if it decided to make an offering like this. Vodafone on the other hand doesn’t have the spectrum, however TPG has some 2600mhz spectrum (probably not enough however) and has suggested in recent articles its willingness to take on NBN in its wireless space. That coupled with its recent Vodafone partnership could see a new challenger to this space.
The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra's has closed further to 1147 by a whopping 59 sites as Optus really slows down their 700Mhz rollout and Telstra powers on.