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Our wireless is the best, says NBN

16 Jul 2015

The NBN might be delivering a sub-optimal wired service now the Government has directed it to use copper rather than fibre, but it says its wireless service will be first rate.

Amid all the controversy over Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘multi-technology mix’, under which millions of NBN users will now be connected via fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) rather than fibre-to-the premises (FTTN), it is sometimes overlooked that there are also two other major technologies delivering the NBN (with about one third using existing Optus and Telstra HFC connections).

Wireless and satellite will between them account for around 8% of the NBN’s eventual 10 million connections, mostly in regional and remote Australia (see chart). NBN will be launching two satellites (these users are currently served by a slow interim services), which will offer some of the best Internet satellite connections available globally, and it is now spruiking the merits of its wireless broadband service.

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NBN Co to deploy 5G in the bush

16 Jul 2015

The national broadband network will deploy next-generation 5G technology for internet users in rural and regional Australia, according to Liberal frontbench MP Paul Fletcher.

Mr Fletcher will make the announcement as part of a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai on Thursday, as a replacement for NBN chief executive Bill Morrow, who was unable to attend due to a death in the family.

The 5G systems are set to be commercially released by 2020 with the promise of 10 gigabit per second downloads speeds, near-zero signal lower lag times for things such as driverless cars and super-low battery consumption.

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Telstra GSM switch off 2016, Nokia says 100% GSM data growth

13 Jul 2015

As Telstra prepares for its GSM 2G network switch off in 18 months time, to the chagrin of many customers, Nokia separately says telcos should prepare for 100% GSM data growth.

This time last year Telstra was announcing that its 2G GSM network was going to be switched off at the end of 2016, to the chagrin and annoyance of many of its customers with 2G GSM and GPRS equipment.

Many of these users have commented at Telstra’s blog post to complain that the equipment they have comes with 2G GSM/GPRS modems which will need physical and expensive replacement with 3G/4G modems.

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Vodafone’s major milestone in building network of the future

11 Jul 2015

Vodafone’s major core network milestone sees it promising an enhanced 4G experience for reliable downloads, uploads and streaming, with the next step a vault towards VoLTE.

As the days of Vodafail pale into the recesses of our memories, Vodafone’s network has been steadily improving, especially when it comes to the 4G side of things.

Part of the global Vodafone telco empire, its Australian division has now announced that, as part of reaching a major milestone in its core network upgrade, all of its customers are now using the new network for 4G data sessions.

Presumably due to that 4G caveat, 3G and 2G customers are still using the old network for 2G and 3G data sessions, but with 4G the focus for most individuals and business users in the areas that Vodafone offers 4G coverage, this is good news.

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Telstra to boost mobile investment to $5bn

09 Jul 2015

Will increase 4G coverage to 2.5 million km2.

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn has committed to investing more than $5 billion in the telco's mobile network over the next three years during his first major speech since taking the job.

At a CEDA event in Sydney today, Penn said Telstra would use the investment to expand its 4G footprint to 2.5 million square kilometres. Telstra typically spends around $1 billion a year on its network.

Rival Optus in May said it would up its infrastructure spend to $1.8 billion over the coming year to increase its share in the fixed-line market.

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Rural dwellers employ elaborate setups for internet

07 Jul 2015

Rural residents are spending thousands of dollars on aerials and repeaters while paying large amounts of money for internet plans with small usage allowances, despite the NBN rollout and the government's efforts to address mobile blackspots.

In a submission to the Department of Communications’ regional telecommunications review. web developer Glyn O’Keefe, a resident of north-eastern Victoria, described spending approximately $2000 on an external aerial and a repeater to receive mobile phone and wireless internet signals.

“The speed is adequate, but the maximum we are able to receive is 15 gigabytes, and that costs just over $100 per month,” O’Keefe said.

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More Telstra towers planned to boost coverage in Broken Hill

06 Jul 2015

As negotiations drag on around plans for a third communications tower in Broken Hill, a Telstra spokesman says the company will soon apply for approval to build a fourth.

Council last month rejected the telco's bid to relax radiation monitoring requirements for its planned McCulloch Street tower, a move the company could appeal.

But spokesman Scott Curtin said a city the size of Broken Hill needs four towers for adequate coverage, double the current number.

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NBN Co to trial faster fixed wireless services

06 Jul 2015

NBN Co, the entity charged with building and operating Australia's national broadband network (NBN) has announced a trial of 25-50Mbps downloads and 5-20Mbps uploads on its fixed wireless network.

The trial is for wholesale speeds: retailers will have the choice of creating products at this speed, or ignoring it.

The network-builder says 25-50Mbps is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2015 and that the pilot “is expected to conclude 20 business days after the commercial launch”.

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2015 Mid Year Update

02 Jul 2015

For the first half of 2015 Optus was the clear winner upgrading 2026 towers total and adding 349 new towers to their network bring their total tower number to 5716. In Low Band 4G optus is also the clear winner with 2082 towers active with 700mhz 4G. Overall Optus now has 3825 active 4G towers nation wide which makes them the largest 4G network in the country! Its been a seller start to the year for Optus however time will tell if they will be able to continue their pace for the remainder of the year. The fact that Optus missed out on Black-spot funding seems quite strange given that Vodafone was even able to pick up 70 towers in the program. Clearly Optus has other plans as they have admitted "Depth" is their key focus moving forward, and deploying towers in rural areas is the only way that issue can be solved.

Second place has to go to Vodafone, they managed 115 new towers and upgraded 1548 towers for the first half of 2015. That brings their total to 4979 which really isn't that far behind optus overall. In Low Band 4G Vodafone is using 850Mhz and has 1543 towers deployed with 2646 towers having 4G services overall. Since Vodafone does not have any 4G services in rural areas those towers are obviously in metro areas. A few active 1800mhz towers are starting to popup for vodafone in rural areas but dont appear available to the general public, possibly waiting on licensing or a larger deployment. As mentioned earlier Vodafone won 70 black-spot sites with NSW and TAS being the big winners for Vodafone with 42 and 17 respectively QLD also picked up 7 sites.

Telstra has been the big surprise lagging behind both Optus and Vodafone. Adding only 145 towers to their network and upgrading only 836 sites. They are also now lagging behind optus in 4G having only 750 low band 700mhz sites and a total of 3444 4G sites nation wide. Obviously depth is something Telstra still has a clear advantage with 7340 towers, way ahead of Optus and possibly not something Optus could challenge in the near term. Telstra also won 429 black-spot sites with a further 200 Micro 4G (lte1800Mhz only, attached to exchange buildings) sites to be announced soon. Currently Telstra has 9 active Micro 4G sites with 42 additional proposals. WA was the clear winner in the black-spot program for Telstra with VIC and NSW also doing well, the clear looser was SA as they didn't add any additional funding to the program.

Its been a big half year for NBN also, activating 444 sites nation wide. They currently have 1706 active or proposed sites and their current target was increased from 1600 to 2100 sites total. In order to reach their 2100 target there are still around 400 proposal missing however proposals are still being added every week.

End Of June Update

02 Jul 2015

In the past couple weeks, the biggest news is that Optus has slowed their pace to around that of Vodafone and Telstra. Vodafone took the lead with 98 site updates and 12 new sites. Telstra upgraded 89 sites and added 13 new sites while Optus lagged behind with 85 site upgrades and 10 new sites.

Almost all of Telstra upgrades were for 700mhz with a few 2600mhz upgrades and a couple 1800mhz upgrades also. Vodafone's main focus continues to be 850mhz with 4G being deployed in metro areas and 3G in rural areas. Optus remains focused on 700mhz, 2300mhz and 2600mhz with some 1800mhz also being deployed.

NBN also slowed their pace dramatically only activating 7 towers but they did add an additional 28 proposals banging their total to 1706. NBN also continue to switch some of their tower proposals from 2300mhz to 3500mhz.

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