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Telstra clears last microwave links out of 4G band

05 Aug 2017

Last link to go by early next year.

Telstra is expected to clear the last of its microwave backhaul links out of the 1800 MHz spectrum band before the end of the first quarter of 2018.

The 1800 MHz band was at one stage home to 773 such point-to-point links, of which 637 were owned by Telstra.

They were used to backhaul voice and data services, often to enable Telstra to meet its universal service obligations (USO) when links were daisy-chained to stretch deep into remote parts of Australia.

Today, Telstra has whittled the number of links still active in the 1800 MHz band to just 34, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) revealed overnight they are likely to be cleared from the band before long.

“It is anticipated that Telstra will clear all specified fixed links before the end of the first quarter of 2018,” the ACMA said, however there was some leeway in the licenses to cater for any delays to the exit strategy.

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Tracing Telstra's future

05 Aug 2017

Under siege on multiple fronts, can it emerge victorious?

Telstra is already reinventing itself with a budget running into the billions, but faces a new series of threats that could undermine its future growth prospects.

As it moves further into an NBN world, the telco faces increased pressure to maintain market share and margin it has traditionally dominated by owning and operating the local fixed-line network.

It – like others – is likely to compete with high speed and quota-heavy mobile plans that – for many internet users – could prove an attractive alternative to a fixed-line service.

But the government is unlikely to take that kind of competition to the NBN lying down, and as such there is growing regulatory uncertainty over how mobile will be treated in future as an NBN competitor.

Telstra faces a range of other challenges: to its brand attributes, to its breadth of products, the loyalty of its subscriber base, and to its ability to decide who does and does not have a right to use its mobile network.

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End of July Update

04 Aug 2017

The big news this fortnight is Optus' announcement of a billion-dollar network spend. This includes towers Optus will build under the Blackspot Program, but also new towers as well as 4G upgrades including the rollout of 1800Mhz in rural areas. So far, the data isn’t showing a ramp up happening yet however there have been to be quite a few proposals by Optus recently that seem to be in preparation of this ramp up. This fortnight Optus added 9 new sites while proposing 15 more, we well as upgrading 32 sites and proposing a further 81 with 4G1800 being quite significant indicating the beginning of that major rollout.

Telstra also made a big announcement this fortnight with Cat M1 specification being turned on allowing Internet of things devices to communicate more efficiently with less power and over longer distances. Telstra added 7 new sites as well as proposing 18 more, while also upgrading a further 36 sites and proposing 64 site upgrades with mostly 4G900.

Vodafone recently activated a few rural sites with great fanfare, which may well be too little too late. Vodafone is not really growing its customer base and will most likely fail to do so with its lack of rural coverage being a major issue. Vodafone looks like they are standing still relative to Optus and Telstra. This fortnight they added 7 new sites and upgraded 23, with nothing much in the way of proposals.

NBN activated 10 new sites and upgraded a further 5 sites. NBN is still proposing new sites with this fortnight adding 2 new outer metro site proposals.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra is holding firm and has decreased by 1 site. Optus is ahead of Telstra however in 4G700 by 1087 sites.

Vodafone will offer 4G while customers wait for NBN

02 Aug 2017

Temporary fixed-like service delivered over mobile network.

Vodafone will offer its NBN customers a temporary 12Mbps connection delivered via its mobile network while they wait for their new fixed-line service to go live.

The “back-up connection” is set to the minimum speed tier available on the NBN of 12/1Mbps.  

It does not appear these speeds would be guaranteed but rather set as the “maximum” allowable speed for the back-up service, however internet usage will be “unlimited”.

Vodafone said the temporary fixed-line equivalent service on its mobile network would be offered “in-between sign-up and service installation and where repairs need to be carried out by NBN Co to resolve a fault affecting an individual customer’s fixed service".

“We have listened to people’s concerns about missing out on internet access or paying out of their own pockets for mobile data while they wait for their service to be installed or repaired,” general manager of fixed broadband Matthew Lobb said.

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Telstra turns on Cat M1 for 4GX network

02 Aug 2017

Australia's incumbent telco has switched on Cat M1 on its 4GX footprint in an effort to boost IoT uptake on its network.

Telstra COO Robyn Denholm said Cat M1 would allow IoT devices to have years of battery life, as well as support greater range from the tower and into buildings.

"With the unique features and coverage of Cat M1 enabled devices, we see this as an investment in the IoT ecosystem in Australia that will support new startups across a range of sectors, including agriculture, transportation, healthcare, and mining," Denholm said.

"Cat M1 operates over our expansive 4GX coverage and we will shortly deploy range extension capability which will take the Cat M1 coverage footprint for compatible Cat M1 devices to around 3 million square kilometres."

"With the boom in smart devices, video streaming, and cloud computing, we are forecasting that over the next five years we will have five times the traffic on our network, four times the devices, and a growing range of ever more complex applications."

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Telstra blames NBN woes on failure to explain options to consumers

02 Aug 2017


Meanwhile, Telstra’s 4G network now covers 99 per cent of the Australian population. “Last year we added a new tower every second day into the network; in June this year we added 40 new sites,” Ms Denholm said.

Apart from extending its coverage to 2.4 million square kilometres, Telstra is adding new capabilities. Its mobile network is the first in Australia to offer Cat M1 cellular technology, specifically designed to power the Internet of Things and machine-to-­machine applications.

“Cat M1 enables low-cost IoT devices like sensors and monitors to have greater reach in distance and depth into buildings. It also offers the opportunity for battery life measured in years rather than hours and days,” Ms Denholm said.

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5G will be underpinned by fixed networks and is complimentary to NBN: Telstra

02 Aug 2017

Top Telstra executives have ruled out 5G mobile competing directly with the national broadband network, saying a crucial part of increasingly mobile internet speeds is a fixed fibre network.

New Telstra chief operations officer Robyn Denholm, who also sits on the board of Elon Musk's Tesla, and the telco's top engineer, group managing director of networks Mike Wright, said fixed networks would provide the backbone to 5G, as the faster mobile technology shifted from being a dream to reality over the coming years.

"You need to have a robust mobile network, you also need to have a robust broadband network. The two are complimentary," Ms Denholm said.

"The cost per bit of traffic which goes over a fixed network versus a mobile network is quite different and will be different for a long period of time. But also the capability and capacity you can get over a fixed network is different."

Expectations and hype around 5G mobile is growing and the technology is expected to be significantly faster than 4G.

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Optus upgrade for Yarraman

01 Aug 2017

OPTUS has announced it will upgrade a mobile phone base station at Yarraman.

In a statement the company said it planned to install telecommunications equipment on an existing NBN facility on the D'Aguilar Hwy. The plan would see the existing NBN tower extended by 5m, with three new antennae and one radio dish installed.

Maranoa MP David Littleproud said Optus' recent announcement that it would spend $1 billion to build 500 towers in rural Australia was misleading.

"This amount is a smoke-screen because out of these 'new towers', 114 are co-funded by the Mobile Phone Black Spot Program,” Mr Littleproud said.

"Of the remaining 386 towers, only one tower at Kingaroy will be funded by Optus in my electorate covering more than 42% of rural Queensland - so these claims are a total stretch.

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Changes to our 4G Service

29 Jul 2017

4G Network Enhancement – Device Firmware Fix

The next few years will unleash unprecedented new demands on our network. That’s why Telstra recently announced plans to build the Network of the Future, ensuring we will be ready for twice as many streaming videos, four times the number of connected devices and five times the internet traffic.

To support this plan we will be making network enhancements to our 4G 700MHz spectrum from 11 July.

As a result, some customers will need to update the software on their device.

Do I need to do anything?

Most devices approved for use on the Telstra mobile network will not be affected and will continue to work as they do today.  There are however some devices that will need to update their software to ensure there is no disruption to their current service.

Affected devices have already been sent a software notification from the device manufacturer.  We have also notified all customers who are using a device that requires a software update.

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OPINION: Junee has put up with terrible mobile service for far too long

29 Jul 2017

In announcing their billion dollar network investment in regional Australia, Optus’ chief executive officer Allen Lew boldly challenged his regional customers. 

“I challenge regional Australians to put Optus’ network to the test for themselves,” he said. 

“Try our network and if you’re not satisfied, simply contact us within 30 days to cancel the service, return the handset in good working order, and there won’t be any plan cancellation fees.” 

The irony is for many people on the network who live outside of towns and shires, they’d probably need to make a trip into town to get the bars to make that tedious complaint call. 

Mobile reception is beyond a joke in the country, it’s putting lives at risk. 

Junee customers are all too familiar with the drop out zones between home and Wagga, on the road to Cootamundra and on Shepherds Siding Road. 

We often take our ability to contact emergency services, our families, our kids for granted. 

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