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50Mbps NBN wireless on track for pre-Christmas launch

02 Sep 2015

NBN's speed boost to its fixed wireless service, which will see the potential maximum speed of connections increased to 50Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream, should be commercially available before Christmas.

NBN began piloting the new speed tier in May. Currently the maximum commercially available speed on the 4G TD-LTE service is 25/5Mbps. The upgrade to the service was possible without any additional capital investment from the company.

The fixed wireless service has reached a scale where "it's no longer just a bit player in NBN's stable of technologies," NBN's general manager, fixed wireless and satellite, Gavin Williams, today told the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network's conference in Sydney.

Almost 300,000 premises are within NBN's current fixed wireless footprint.

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Want 22GB of mobile broadband data? Optus has you covered

01 Sep 2015

More data with a long expiry time: That's the latest on offer from Optus when it comes to prepaid mobile data plans.

The top tier from the Aussie telco is 22GB of data, with a 730-day (2-year) expiry period, for AU$130. For AU$50 you can get 7GB with a 1-year expiry, while the more regular month-to-month plan offers 4GB for AU$30.

The lowest-level option allows for 1GB of data for one week for AU$10. The plans work across the range of Optus mobile broadband 'dongle' and hotspot products, as well as on SIM-enabled tablets.

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Telstra Cat 9 network: for the magic you need all the pipelines

26 Aug 2015

Testing a superfast 450 megabit per second data superhighway for mobile phones can have its issues. It’s what I discovered when I tried Telstra’s new 4GX Cat 9 network with one of the first two phones designed to access it.

Last week’s local release of Samsung’s two new smartphone powerhouses, the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ was extra significant for that reason.

So I obtained a Telstra-flashed Note 5, slotted in a Telstra SIM and began pounding the pavement in the neighbourhood of the News Corporation offices in Sydney. Telstra had armed me with information about where to for the best reception.

The first thing to note about the new Cat 9 is it’s not ubiquitous. Walking southward down Elizabeth Street past Devonshire Street towards Cleveland Street in Sydney, the phone’s ability to register a download speed of more than 100Mbps would wax and wane.

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Optus mobile subscriber base falls as Telstra, Vodafone step up competition

19 Aug 2015

Singtel-Optus chief executive Allen Lew says the company will not outspend Telstra on its mobile networks and says he is already investing more "pound for pound" than his rivals.

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn said on Thursday he would raise spending as needed to remain Australia's leading mobile services provider.

It was a shot aimed clearly at Optus, which has pledged to become Australia's leading mobile provider and increased its capital expenditure to $S1.9 billion ($1.85 billion) to try to do so.

But Mr Lew said Optus would march to its own drumbeat and was already outspending Telstra on a per-customer basis.

"We know how much we need to invest and we've upped it quite significantly," he told Fairfax Media. "That will get us part-way to where we want to be and we want to invest further.

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Optus in ‘world first’ carrier aggregation

18 Aug 2015

Optus says it is the first telco in the world to deliver carrier aggregation on three separate mobile networks (3xCA), delivering download speeds of 317 Mbps.

Optus is using one FDD (frequency division duplexing) and two TDD (time division duplexing) networks to deliver a major pilot of 3xCA technology in the Newcastle NSW suburbs of Lambton, Mayfield and Mayfield West ahead of releasing it commercially in other locations around Australia.

The high speeds are available only with compatible category 9 carrier aggregation devices. These include the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 announced last week.

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Mid August Update

17 Aug 2015

In the past 2 weeks, Optus has taken the lead back from Telstra, upgrading 77 sites as well as activating an impressive 19 new sites.

Telstra came in second with 6 new sites as well as 70 site upgrades. A good majority of those sites had a 700Mhz upgrade as well as some getting 1800Mhz and a few getting 2600Mhz in more denser populated areas.

Vodafone although lagging is somewhat keeping up with 13 new sites as well as 62 upgraded sites. Vodafone's focus continues to be 850Mhz both metro (4G) and rural (3G).

The 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has only closed by 4 towers since the last update bringing the gap to 326. In low band 4G however despite Telstra's effort, Optus has out paced Telstra increasing the gap by 13 towers to a total of 1312 more 700Mhz 4G towers than Telstra.

NBN's pace continues to be slow only activating 10 towers for the 2 week period and adding an additional 7 proposals bringing their total to 1723 active and proposed.

What Is 'Category 9' 4G?

14 Aug 2015

As much as we might like to complain about our mobile internet coverage and the speed of our connections, Australia’s mobile data networks are actually world class. Along with Korea and Sweden, Australia leads the way in the adoption and take-up of new super-fast 4G LTE-Advanced standards — and the latest is Category 9, a fancy frequency-meshing network capable of 450Mbps downloads.

The impetus for Category 9 LTE-Advanced in Australia actually comes from third-party devices, rather than big investments in the network itself — namely that shiny new Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ announced overnight in New York.

Category 9 is the successor to Category 6, itself the technical successor to Category 4.

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Optus kicks off WiFi calling in Australia

12 Aug 2015

Optus has become the first Australian carrier to make the jump: it's launched a WiFi calling app to let users make calls when they can't get a 3G/4G signal.

The company has launched its snappily-named WiFi Talk app, which like Skype lets users have conversations and send text messages over a handy wireless LAN connection.

Unlike an over-the-top (OTT) voice-over-internet-protocol connection, WiFi Talk calls will be billed to the user's mobile service. On the upside, you can talk to any phone number on your plan rate without buying SkypeOut credits, you can send texts to any mobile, and you can receive calls without having to buy a SkypeIn number.

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Optus to shut down 2G network in 2017

05 Aug 2015

Optus will shut down its 2G network in April 2017, the telco revealed today.

"2G now constitutes a fraction of our total mobile network traffic and is declining significantly year on year," Optus Networks acting managing director Dennis Wong said in a statement.

"Mobile service providers globally, including in Australia and our parent company Singtel in Singapore, are closing down 2G networks to support newer technologies."

Optus' 2G network runs in the 900MHz spectrum.

"No decision has been made regarding the reallocation of spectrum," an Optus spokesperson told Computerworld.

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End Of July Update

02 Aug 2015

The biggest news for the past 2 weeks is Telstra have finally woken from their slumber an have finally taken the lead in Tower upgrades for the period. Upgrading 110 sites mostly adding 4G 700mhz and/or 4G 1800Mhz to sites as well as a few 4G 2600 here and there also. Telstra also ramped up their proposals, proposing 179 tower upgrades. Telstra also added 12 new towers for this period.

Vodafone continues to plod along at its usual pace adding 12 new towers as well as upgrading 92 towers, comfortably holing 2nd place. Vodafone's focus continues to be 850Mhz with 4G being the focus in metro areas and 3G for rural areas.

Although optus added the most towers for the period or 16 new sites, their site upgrades have really slowed with 65 for the period. Optus appears to now be focusing a little more on depth, with some older 2G only towers finally getting a 3G upgrade but 4G is still nowhere in sight for those towers. Optus' 4G lead is now under threat, Telstra is only 330 towers behind an I expect that gap to close quickly and be over taken in the near future. In the 4G low band stakes Telstra is much further behind with a deficit of 1299 towers, I will be closely watching these gaps and will keep you all up to date on Telstra's progress.

NBN's pace continues to be slow only activating 13 towers for the 2 week period and adding an additional 3 proposals bringing their total to 1716 active and proposed.

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