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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.

Optus misses out on mobile blackspot funding

25 Jun 2015

Telstra to build 429 of 499 base stations.

Australia’s second largest mobile network provider Optus has failed to secure any funding to build new mobile towers in regional blackspots under a $385 million infrastructure program co-funded by the Commonwealth, states and telcos.

Overall, the program will see the construction of 499 new base stations, providing 68,600 square kilometres of additional mobile coverage.

The Commonwealth invited competitive bids from the three mobile network providers - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone - to secure a slice of $100 million it would contribute to building new base stations across the states and territories.

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Zero SA dollars, entire regions miss out on tower commitments

25 Jun 2015

The South Australian Government has not contributed any money to the black spot program and as a result only 11 new towers will be built in the state.

In comparison, Western Australia will see construction of 130 towers, Victoria 110, Queensland 68 and Tasmania 31.

Many farmers in the south-east of SA, who do not even own a mobile phone because it is useless at their home address, will not have a need to buy one any time soon.

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Mid June Update

18 Jun 2015

In the past couple weeks, Telstra's pace remains unchanged upgrading 74 sites and adding 8 new sites. Optus adds a new milestone, passing 2000 700mhz sites. Optus increases their pace slightly with 165 sites upgraded and but only 16 new sites added. Vodafone continues their 850mhz roll out with 4G in metro areas and 3G in rural areas, upgrading 103 sites and adding 5 new sites.

The big news this time around is NBN switching a bunch of towers with 2300mhz proposals to 3500mhz proposals (removing 2300mhz). There is a cluster of them around Colac VIC, I'm not exactly sure why those towers have been switched, there were a couple of others in other states also one in QLD and the other in WA. NBN also added a milestone of their own passing 1000 active sites. NBN added 23 more proposals and activated 43 sites 25 of those in NSW alone.

End Of May Update

03 Jun 2015

In the past 2 or so weeks, Telstra has continued adding proposals for mostly 700Mhz site upgrades with 140 proposals, however this has not yet translated into a ramp up in activations. Telstra continues to plod along at the same rate adding 14 new sites, and upgrading 70 sites.

The big change this time around is Vodafone outdoing Optus, Vodafone upgraded 134 sites with 59 of those in Victoria alone, mostly adding 850LTE to their sites, I'm guessing this is a second round of 850mhz deployment by Vodafone filling some of the gaps of the initial round some time ago. Vodafone also added 14 new towers which is on par with Telstra.

Optus has slowed their rate this time upgrading only 127 sites compared with 177 for the previous period and 251 prior to that. This seems like a definite trend but they are still outpacing Telstra by almost 2 to 1. The rate at which Optus is adding new towers however is not slowing down, adding 34 new sites compared with 24 and 37 new sites in previous periods. Most of the new sites Optus are deploying are mostly on existing Vodafone sites, however as time goes on I'm seeing more Optus services added to existing Telstra sites as well as wholly new sites (with a few new sites jointly shared with vodafone). Optus is going to run out of Vodafone sites to add it services, and this also doesn't solve their "Depth" issue in rural and remote areas, so it will be interesting to see how Optus tackles that problem longer term. You would think Optus would do some kind of deal with NBN, as backhaul and tower deployment is a significant cost and something NBN already has in place (or soon will) in many of the locations Optus would benefit greatly from. Alternatively thats a great bargaining chip to use in any negotiations with Telstra. Using as much existing infrastructure as possible is the only way Optus can really fix their "Depth" issue with any real speed and/or cost benefit.

NBN in the past few weeks has continued their current passe activating 58 sites as well as adding proposals for a further 9 sites. That brings their total to 1674 with their current goal being 2100 sites.

ACMA opts for limits in upcoming 1800MHz auction

30 May 2015

Boost for regional 4G services.

The federal government will offer key 1800MHz spectrum in regional Australia to interested buyers in a move that will provide a boost to regional 4G services.

But against recommendations by Telstra, the Australian Communications and Media Authority will only allow bidders to purchase a maximum 2 x 25MHz chunks of spectrum of the 2 x 60MHz for sale at the auction - a position Telstra's rivals Optus and Vodafone had lobbied for.

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NBN now has 2057 fixed wireless sites.

27 May 2015

According to itwire, NBN is now planning 2057 fixed wireless sites. As of this writing, currently only 1663 sites have been submitted for approval however that number continues to climb.

You can see all currently listed NBN sites here.

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