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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.

Optus suffers major mobile network outage in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania

25 Jul 2015

Optus suffered from a "major" network outage on Friday afternoon affecting thousands of its customers in NSW, Victoria ad Tasmania.

The outage appeared to start at about 3.30pm AEST and ended at 6.30pm AEST.

"We've identified a fault which means you might experience issues with voice at the moment, Our team are on to it, and aim to fix this as soon as possible. We're sorry for the inconvenience."

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Vodafone mobile subscribers dip as Telstra and Optus turn up the heat

25 Jul 2015

Vodafone Hutchison Australia chief financial officer James Marsh expects get stronger subscriber growth over coming months despite losing 47,000 mobile customers over the past six months amid rising competition from rivals, Telstra and Singtel-Optus.

Hong Kong's HTA and UK-based Vodafone Group each own 50 per cent of Vodafone Australia.

According to HTA's financial results for the six months ending June 30, 2015, Vodafone Australia had 5.255 million mobile subscribers once wholesale customers are included. This was down from the 5.3 million it had at the end of December.

By comparison, Telstra has about 16.4 million customers and Singtel-Optus has 9.43 million users.

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Mid July Update

17 Jul 2015

In the past couple weeks, the biggest news is that all 3 major carriers are rolling out at almost exactly the same pace. The numbers are so similar there really isn't a clear winner this time around, however because Optus' rate has slowed so much Telstra and Vodafone has been allowed to catch up. Vodafone had 70 site updates and 13 new sites which is consistent with recent periods. Telstra upgraded 77 sites and added 9 new sites while Optus continued with their slower pace with 76 site upgrades and surprisingly only 5 new sites.

Telstra continues to add proposals for 700Mhz upgrades, but not at any great pace that would indicate a major shift in their roll out speed.

NBN also picked up their pace slightly activating 17 towers and adding an additional 7 proposals bringing their total to 1713 active and proposed. NBN continue to switch some of their proposed 2300mhz sites to 3500mhz proposals.

NBN downplays 5G plans while 4G beats international peers

16 Jul 2015

NBN's 4G fixed-wireless network has topped a comparison of 22 wireless broadband networks across the globe.

NBN's TD-LTE network is less than halfway built, despite initial plans to have the network construction completed by the end of 2015. It currently reaches 268,000 of the 600,000 premises planned to connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN) via wireless as of the end of June this year.

A total of approximately 47,000 premises are connected to the network with a service.

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