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Telstra, Optus, Vodafone have improved mobile networks, as these numbers show

14 Oct 2015

Telstra, Singtel-Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia have all improved their mobile networks over the past 12 months as they spend billions of dollars to win over customers.

Optus and Vodafone Australia both pledged to spend huge sums of money expanding and improving their mobile services to bring the fight to Telstra. The telecommunications incumbent fought back, pledging to invest $5 billion in the three years ending mid-2017 to maintain its lead.

But far from being hot air, the second annual P3 CommsDay Mobile Benchmark Australia report released on Wednesday morning shows that all three have genuinely put their money where their mouths are to improve voice call and data download performances.

The mobile market is one of the few telecommunications segments still reporting revenue growth as Australians use their smartphones to download more data. Rising competition among the three largest providers is threatening to lower profit margins across the board.

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Vodafone offering VoLTE before Christmas, but only for Samsung users

14 Oct 2015

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is set to hit Vodafone's Australian network, with the telco announcing that it will begin rolling out the service to post-paid customers on a select number of Samsung devices.

Users of the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge +, and Note 5 will be the first to have the settings needed to take advantage of VoLTE pushed to them, with other devices to follow at an unspecified time.

"It's a really exciting change for the network, as this is the first step to moving all voice traffic over to 4G," Vodafone Australia chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen said.

"In terms of the network, VoLTE means enhanced spectral efficiency with 2.3 times more users per MHz. It will also support the re-farming of our spectrum from 3G to 4G so that we can continue to provide great data speeds as traffic grows."

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Banned on Whirlpool

14 Oct 2015

I (jimbo) have now been permanently banned on whirlpool (no warning, breach of advertising apparently), and as such will no longer be participating on that site.

I guess thats the thanks you get for trying to contribute something real and useful to the community.

This is not the first time I have had dealing with moderators on whirlpool and if you think you have freedom of speech or that the discussion there has a complete range of viewpoints think again.

If you enjoyed what I was contributing to the community, then feel free to let them know what you think.

Thanks everyone for your support, but goodbye Whirlpool, I wont miss you.

UPDATE: I have been un-banned, however I will now be reflecting on any further involvement I may have with whirlpool in the future.

Telstra warns of cost to fix mobile phone blackspots in fire-hit parts of central Victoria

13 Oct 2015

Telstra says it would be difficult to fix the mobile phone blackspot problem in bushfire-affected parts of central Victoria.

People in the area east of Kyneton have complained about a lack of coverage and the local Macedon Ranges Shire has described the problem as potentially dangerous for residents.

Telstra's Steve Tinker said the region's rugged terrain made providing mobile services difficult.

"The community have provided feedback to both Telstra [and the] state and federal governments, so we do know them," he said.

"It might take a number of base stations, so quite a bit of investment, to provide service in those areas."

To see the latest progress on the Black Spot Program: click here.

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Lancefield and Cobaw feel isolated by mobile black spots during bushfires

13 Oct 2015

​Bushfire-hit areas of Lancefield and Cobaw missed out on a wave of mobile phone coverage upgrades, despite being listed on a national database of black spots.

During the recent fire in the area, caused by a planned burn getting out of control during dangerous conditions, residents complained about poor or nonexistent mobile phone or internet coverage.

Some locals said they could not access information on the CFA's FireReady app because they could not get mobile access.

Lancefield and Cobaw are on a database of 6221 sites around Australia identified as a mobile phone black-spot area.

In June the Abbott government, including work by then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, announced it would contribute $100 million towards upgrading 499 mobile base stations. The Victorian government chipped in $21 million towards the 109 sites in the state.

To see the latest progress on the Black Spot Program: click here.

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End Of September Update

05 Oct 2015

For the past two weeks things are basically continuing as they were two weeks ago. Vodafone continues with activating the most towers at 16 new towers, with Optus again coming second activating 13 and Telstra remains last at 9 new towers.

Site upgrade numbers came in around the same as last time with Telstra upgrading 108 towers continuing their 4G 700Mhz rollout.

Optus again came in second for upgrades with 94 tower upgrades, their focus has shifted somewhat with 4G 2100Mhz becoming a priority especially in NT. This will be removing some capacity from their 3G network in order to add capacity to their 4G network, with some towers getting only 4G 2100Mhz this may be also a method to use older equipment in some areas and speed deployment also with 700Mhz and/or 2600Mhz being added at a later date.

Vodafone's tower upgrade program continues to lag behind now as their focus shifted to new towers, they still managed 57 tower upgrades with 850Mhz continuing to be the main upgrade focus, 4G in metro and 3G in rural.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra's has closed even more than last time to 1265 by 27 sites, rather than Telstra ramping up I think Optus is slowing down as 4G 2100Mhz was more of a focus this time.

NBN's pace has slowed significantly activating only 1 tower for the 2 week period and adding an additional 3 proposals bringing their total to 1739 active and proposed.

Mid September Update

19 Sep 2015

The biggest news for the past two weeks has been Vodafone activating 38 new towers! Focusing mostly in metro areas as expected, however a few major rural centers like Albury/Wodonga, Mackay and Townsville also received new towers. Vodafone also continues their 4G 2100Mhz upgrade around the cairns area. This appears to be a major shift in focus by Vodafone, as they appear to be adding capacity to densely populated areas and/or filling a few gaps in their coverage. Telstra and Optus added 6 and 13 new sites respectively with their main focus continuing to be upgrades to existing towers.

Telstra took the top of the leader board for upgrades upgrading 127 sites, with their main focus being their 700Mhz roll out with both metro and rural areas getting upgrades. Optus upgraded 109 sites their 700Mhz rollout appears to be slowing with 2600 and 2300 bands becoming more of a focal point. Optus also passed the 4000 4G tower mark, Telstra announced over 5000 towers this week which is 1300 short of what is showing in the rfnsa data. Telstra's data may well be the least accurate and perhaps the 4G 1800 additions being added were activated long ago and only now are telstra getting around to reporting it.

Numbers I have seen from both Vodafone and Optus have been much much closer well under 10% margin of error. I expect as Telstra catches up on their reporting that these numbers will become more accurate, the trends are still fairly well established. Vodafone also upgraded 84 sites in this period, with 4G 850 still remaining the main focus with 4G 1800 also getting some attention.

Due to the above statement, the total 4G gaps are probably not accurate, however the low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra's has closed slightly to 1292 by 23 sites, this shows Telstra ramping up as expected.

NBN's pace has slowed somewhat activating 11 towers for the 2 week period and adding an additional 1 additional proposal bringing their total to 1736 active and proposed. All of the activation's were for 2300mhz.

Telstra brings world's first 600Mbps device to Australia

16 Sep 2015

To show off quality of mobile network.

Telstra has brought the world's first 600Mbps-capable device to Australia, in a show of muscle for its mobile network.

The Telstra WiFi 4GX Advanced III Mobile Broadband Hotspot, manufactured in partnership with Netgear, Ericsson and Qualcomm, is the world's first 4G LTE Advanced Category 11 device. The telco said that the improvements in its mobile network to support Cat 11 gear is "really designed to boost network capacity".

"Speed is all about the overall network, not just an individual user," Telstra networks general managing director Mike Wright told a briefing today in Sydney.

At the press event, Telstra staff performed a live demonstration showing actual download speeds going up to 503Mbps. In a video, a speed of over 440Mbps was recorded outdoors in the western Sydney suburb of Harris Park.

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Telstra claims Aussie first with 4G voice calls

16 Sep 2015

'Voice over LTE' maintains 4G connection during calls.

Telstra has claimed an Australian-first with Voice over LTE, an offering that allows mobile users to remain on the 4G network during voice calls.

Telstra networks general managing director Mike Wright called the change "one of the largest and most complex changes to voice calling" in more than 40 years.

"VoLTE is the next generation of how voice calls are carried over our network. In those 4G areas where VoLTE has been enabled, when customers make a voice call on a VoLTE enabled handset, the call is integrated into the 4G LTE data stream rather than the previous arrangement of reverting back to 3G," said Wright.

"This means voice and data stay on the same part of the network, therefore delivering faster data access while using the internet as well as super-fast call set up times."

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ACMA’s 1800MHz November 2015 auction: applications open

15 Sep 2015

ACMA’s auction of spectrum licenses in the 1800MHz band is due November, with 147 lots of spectrum ‘to be offered simultaneously using an online auction methodology.’

Applications are now open for participants interested in 1800MHz spectrum licenses, with ACMA stating it ‘will auction spectrum in markets throughout regional Australia in the ranges 1725-1785 MHz and 1820–1880 MHz, as well as residual spectrum from the recently-completed reissue of expiring spectrum licences in the band.’

ACMA anticipates widespread interest in the band, which is ‘internationally-harmonised for mobile broadband applications.’

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