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End Of September Update

02 Oct 2017

Optus continues to deploy new towers at a rate of knots with 36 new sites spread throughout all states except NT, with both rural and metro areas receiving the new sites. Optus also upgraded a further 47 sites with 4G1800 a major focus mostly in rural areas but 4G2100 is also being rolled out more in metro areas as Optus re-farms from 3G to 4G. So far Optus has added 433 new sites this calendar year and is on track to beat its 2015 rollout which had 453 for the calendar year. At current rates Optus may end up with over 600 new sites for the calendar year.

Telstra continue it forward march with 11 new sites being either blackspot towers or metro sites. Telstra also upgraded a further 51 sites with both 4G700 and 4G2600 being the major focus along with a few straggler’s of 4G1800. Upgrades were mostly focused in metro areas of the east coast, Telstra also continues to propose many sites with their new 4G900 IOT (Internet Of Things) network.

Vodafone also woke from their brief slumber with 13 new sites as well as 92 site upgrades, 73 of those were in NSW and the bulk being around Sydney metro area as well as some around Canberra. The upgrades mostly consisted of 4G2100 with a spattering of other bands, some upgraded from the old 3 network of 3G2100 only. I also noticed a bit of a clean out of old 3GIS (3 network) data from the Rfnsa dataset including towers from both Vodafone and Telstra that likely haven’t been active since the network was abandoned.

NBN also appear to be getting ready to complete the outer metro portions of its fixed wireless network with 22 sites being activated and a further 8 sites upgraded. NBN is still proposing new sites with this fortnight adding 2 new rural site proposals as well as proposing the upgrade of a further 19 sites.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has narrowed by 1 site as Telstra appears to be shifting focus away also. Optus is however still ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 992 sites.

Vodafone, ACCC meet in court for mobile roaming stoush

30 Sep 2017

Lawyers representing Vodafone, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Telstra appeared in Federal Court in Sydney yesterday in a fight over the ACCC’s inquiry into mobile roaming.

The ACCC in May released its draft decision on mobile roaming. The competition watchdog said it was disinclined to declare a mobile roaming service. Declaring a service would allow it to regulate the conditions of access to telcos’ infrastructure in regional parts of Australia where there is reduced competition between mobile carriers.

Vodafone has come out strongly in favour of introducing regulated roaming, which could allow it to piggyback off competitors’ mobile infrastructure in regional Australia, while Optus and Telstra have opposed the idea.

Regulated roaming would be “unambiguously bad” for rural and regional Australia, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said earlier this year. Vodafone, by contrast, has argued that the size of Australia and its low population density mean that many parts of the country are unlikely to support duplicate infrastructure and that roaming would boost competition.

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Optus pushes 4G to 800Mbps with Massive MIMO and 3CC

30 Sep 2017

Optus has announced completing Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) trials, telling ZDNet that in a world first, it combined the Massive MIMO technology with three-cell carrier (3CC) aggregation to attain combined throughput of 818Mbps.

Kent Wu, director of Mobile Networks Planning at Optus, told ZDNet that the trials were conducted across its live network in Macquarie Park, Sydney, increasing the capacity of the network fourfold.

"We have combined three-cell carrier aggregation together with the Massive MIMO, so now it's live in the network," Wu said.

"We have taken this technology one step ahead, and by using the two technologies combined together, we are the world's first to enable this three-cell carrier aggregation and Massive MIMO in the live network."

The trials, which commenced in June, were conducted alongside Chinese networking giant Huawei, Wu told ZDNet.

"We worked with Huawei again because we have started off earlier this year with Huawei on the Massive MIMO, and they are the industry leader in terms of this technology," Wu explained.

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Vodafone to upgrade cell sites with massive MIMO

30 Sep 2017

Following field trials in Sydney.

Vodafone is set to begin upgrading selected cell sites at the end of next year with new antennas capable of a minimum three-fold increase in site capacity.

The telco began a three-day field trial on Wednesday of massive multiple input multiple output (massive MIMO) technology made by Huawei at a cell site near Cronulla in Sydney’s south.

Massive MIMO is considered a 5G foundation technology. It uses large numbers of small antennas grouped together.

It is often combined with another technology called beamforming, which allows radio signals to be better directed towards users in the coverage area of that cell.

Vodafone’s field trial is using a custom antenna system with “32 small internal radio frequency transceivers” and beamforming enabled. However, it is servicing only eight devices/users.

The telco is running the trial using 20MHz of its 1800MHz spectrum, which is currently used for 4G.

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Vodafone And Huawei Just Showed Off 5G 'Massive MIMO' At Crazy Fast Speeds

29 Sep 2017

5G mobile networks may still be a few years away, but that doesn't mean the technology's not already being tested in Australia. Vodafone and Huawei teamed up to show off massive multi-device data throughput in a real-world setting, using its existing frequency spectrum in Sydney's south to hit transfer speeds of 717Mbps.

The test used Vodafone's 20MHz of 1800MHz FDD frequency holding — used for most 4G bands currently — and a Huawei 5G active antenna unit. That antenna uses 32 internal transmitters and receivers for a technology called beamforming — already used in some high-end home Wi-Fi routers — to steer the signal towards receiving devices using the most appropriate antenna.

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Expressions of interest called for telecommunications upgrade on Central Coast rail line

28 Sep 2017

Thousands of Central Coast rail commuters are a step closer to uninterrupted mobile and internet coverage after the Federal Government called for expressions of interest in the $16 million telecommunications upgrade between Sydney and the Central Coast .

The announcementtoday was made jointly by Robertson Federal Liberal MP Lucy Wicks and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.

The upgrade seeks to end the notoriusly dodgy coverage along the 60km stretch of rail line between Wyong and Hornsby which is plagued with drop outs and black spots.

It is the next phase of delivering the government’s 2016 election promise.

A total funding commitment of $16 million includes $4 million from the NSW Government.

The total package will deliver improved mobile coverage as well as provide Wi-Fi at train stations for up to 30,000 Central Coast commuters who travel on Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink services each day.

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Second most popular location for Stawell SES rescue call-outs a mobile blackspot area

28 Sep 2017

Poor phone reception has again emerged as a problem for Stawell State Emergency Service after headquarters could not make contact with personnel out on a job at MacKenzie Falls on Monday.

Stawell SES received a request for assistance about 2pm for a woman, 38, who had fallen and broken her ankle at the bottom of MacKenzie Falls in the Grampians National Park. 

But when the rescue was underway Stawell SES duty officer Jenny Rooke said she could not make contact with SES members at the site.

“We couldn’t call anyone on our radios- there was no phone reception,” she said.

“So we had to follow what was happening by listening to the police scanner.

“MacKenzie Falls is a bad one- you can never seem to get good reception.”

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Telcos using few NBN Co fixed-wireless towers

26 Sep 2017

Australian telecommunications companies have co-located equipment only on a few of the NBN Co's fixed wireless towers so far, the company says.

While 71 sites are in the process of having equipment installed, Telstra is already using seven sites and Optus two.

There are a total of 1600 fixed-wireless towers which belong to the NBN Co.

There have been complaints from users that the fixed wireless speeds are worse than ADSL.

NBN Co wants retail service providers to use its fixed-wireless towers so they can resell the company's fixed-wireless plans, rather than their own plans.

The company told the Senate's Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network that of the 71 sites, nine fixed-wireless base stations had active access seeker equipment co-located.

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NBN defends its network, says few retail applications need over 50Mbps

26 Sep 2017

National Broadband Network (NBN) chief strategy officer JB Rousselot has defended the multi-technology mix of the NBN, stating it will "definitely" handle current bandwidth needs.

"The network that we are building today -- that delivers 25Mbps to everybody and 50Mbps to most, and up to 100Mbps to many of the premises -- definitely caters for the applications of today," Rousselot told the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) National Conference on Thursday.

"Today, about 83 percent of customers that take on a service on NBN select a 12Mbps or 25Mbps service, and there are few retail use cases or retail applications that require more than 50Mbps.

"So the network that we are building today definitely answers the needs of the community today, and probably well into 2020 and beyond."

Rousselot reiterated NBN's approach to upgrading its technology mix, stating that the company will upgrade when it sees demand for faster speeds.

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City of Wanneroo revises telecommunications infrastructure policy

26 Sep 2017

CITY of Wanneroo has revised its telecommunications infrastructure policy, replacing the 2013 version with one that requires smaller consultation areas.

The draft policy attracted three submissions during public consultation late last year, from VisionStream, Telstra and Planning Solutions on behalf of the Mobile Carriers Forum.

The Telstra submission said the policy was “overly prescriptive” and should “encourage innovation” in infrastructure design and location.

“Objective one should also specifically reference comprehensive and reliable coverage particularly in bushfire-prone areas or other locations where communications for emergency response are essential,” it said.

As a result of submissions and site inspections of existing infrastructure in Wanneroo and Darch, the administration adjusted the consultation radius for different types of structures.

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