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Telstra, Optus, Vodafone have improved mobile networks, as these numbers show

13 Dec 2016

Telstra, Singtel-Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia have all improved their mobile networks over the past 12 months as they spend billions of dollars to win over customers.

Optus and Vodafone Australia both pledged to spend huge sums of money expanding and improving their mobile services to bring the fight to Telstra. The telecommunications incumbent fought back, pledging to invest $5 billion in the three years ending mid-2017 to maintain its lead.

But far from being hot air, the second annual P3 CommsDay Mobile Benchmark Australia report released on Wednesday morning shows that all three have genuinely put their money where their mouths are to improve voice call and data download performances.

The mobile market is one of the few telecommunications segments still reporting revenue growth as Australians use their smartphones to download more data. Rising competition among the three largest providers is threatening to lower profit margins across the board.

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Telstra Wins the P3 CommsDay Mobile Benchmark for the Third Year in a Row

13 Dec 2016

Optus is strong second with the highest voice score overall

Vodafone takes the lead in major cities

All operators show marked improvements 

Australia's daily telecommunications journal CommsDay and international leader in mobile benchmarking P3 communications have released the 2016 edition of the P3 CommsDay Mobile Benchmark, an industry-leading annual mobile network test. Telstra did best overall, winning the 'Best in Test' accolade for the third year running, with 867 points out of a possible 1,000. Optus came in second place with 837 points, substantially narrowing the gap compared to last year. Vodafone, which achieved the biggest score increase year-on-year, came in third with 812 points. All three improved on their 2015 scores; P3 uses the same 1,000-point system in benchmarks around the world, and for each of Australia's operators to score over 800 points this year marks out the country as having an extremely consistent level of high-quality mobile performance.

Now in its third year, the comprehensive test measured the voice and data performance on the three operators' networks in nine major Australian cities; in a range of smaller towns and cities; and along connecting roads in more regional areas, covering about 17,000 test kilometres overall. As in previous years, P3 updated the methodology for 2016 to capture as many of the latest network developments as possible. In particular, this year's benchmark included data not just from specially-equipped drive test vehicles, but also from new walk tests using proven P3 technology. This opened up a new level of granular and detailed testing in the five largest cities and provided deep insight into network performance indoors, in central business districts and tourist hotspots, and even on public transport in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

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Leading the way to provide brilliant voice and video calling experiences

10 Dec 2016

In 2016, Telstra continued to enhance our mobile network by delivering new technologies focused on providing customers with brilliant voice and video calling experiences.

Voice over LTE

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is the next generation of how voice calls are carried over our mobile network. When calls are made on a VoLTE enabled handset, VoLTE works by integrating the call into the 4G LTE data stream.  Your data will also stay on 4G when you make a VoLTE call which your overall experience will be faster and your calls to other devices that are HD voice enabled on the Telstra mobile network or Telstra’s fixed networks will be in HD.

Telstra launched Australia’s first VoLTE service in September 2015, and soon after we enabled Telstra’s entire LTE footprint with the technology. This means 98% of the Australian population has access to VoLTE from Telstra and we’re currently planning to hit 99% by July 2017.

Our customers are taking advantage of the technology and we’ve seen nearly one million Telstra customers made a VoLTE call in the past month. This figure is on the rise, and we expect to have approximately five million customers using VoLTE by mid-2017.

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Mobile funding blackspot

10 Dec 2016

Katandra West residents are ‘‘sick and tired’’ of having unreliable mobile coverage throughout the town after missing out on the second round of blackspot funding.

Back in 2014, the community presented Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie with a petition of 200 signatures, calling for urgent action.

In the two years since, nothing has happened.

‘‘I’ve been living in the area since the early ’60s and since the invention of mobiles we’ve always had troubles,’’ Katandra West Fire Brigade captain Col Opray said.

‘‘I can’t get a hold of members, calls drop out and we drastically need an upgrade of our phone network.’’

The town has been identified as one of 6000 locations across Australia with no or limited connectivity but missed out in the first round of federal funding.

Now, after missing the second round of funding, the community is more fed up than ever.

Katandra West Primary School acting principal Marcia Waters said it was embarrassing for the town and she did not feel like she lived in the 21st century.

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Funding for Temma black spot

10 Dec 2016

Connected. The remote town of Temma will receive vital communication support with a new phone tower planned under the federal government’s Mobile Black Spots Program.

This will ensure coverage in the event of emergency and will be a major advantage in events such as the recent bushfires.

The $350,000 structure will be built under round two of the program, designed to improve telecommunications in remote and regional areas. Round two includes 266 new or upgraded mobile base stations around Australia to be deployed by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone and is expected to commence in 2017.

Liberal Member for Braddon Roger Jaensch welcomed the news on Friday, saying Temma was one of six locations identified as a priority.

“A tower at Temma will support our dedicated emergency services in a high fire risk area and provide potentially life-saving services for the many hundreds of fishers, campers, bushwalkers and tourists,” he said.

“[This] investment in vital communications infrastructure follows the announcement last week of progress in delivering super-fast NBN services.”

Federal Member for Braddon Justine Keay also welcomed the announcement.

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Vodafone, Telstra in war of words on regional services

10 Dec 2016

Vodafone Hutchison Australia has ramped up its rhetoric against Telstra as regional Australia shapes up as the key battleground for the telcos.

Vodafone, citing research conducted by the Centre for International Economics (CIE), yesterday claimed Telstra was exploiting its market position to fill its coffers by charging regional customers a significant premium.

According to Vodafone, Telstra’s mobile customers in regional areas pay a price premium of $10 per month for prepaid and more than $4 a month for postpaid services.

“The difference in mobile premium is more than twice of that paid by a customer who lives in Sydney,” Vodafone said.

The “Telstra Price Premium” report, commissioned by Vodafone, also pegs the total premium paid by Telstra customers each year at $1.4 billion for mobile services and $1.8bn for fixed services.

However, Telstra was swift to reply, accusing its rival of using “hysterical” rhetoric to gain cheap access to Telstra’s regional network.

According to Telstra, its customers pay a premium because they get a premium service and the lack of choice in regional areas was an indictment on how little Vodafone was willing to invest in its networks.

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Government must stop ignoring mobile call

08 Dec 2016

It’s about time the federal government went all out on improving mobile and data services in rural communities.

The VFF has been urging the government to push more resources into initiatives such as the Mobile Black Spot Program as a way of bridging the digital divide that’s still separating urban and rural communities.

The Productivity Commission this week echoed our calls in its draft report into the Universal Service Obligation (USO), a $297 million a year plan that ensures a standard telephone service is available to all Australians wherever they live.

The USO – which isn’t due to expire until 2032  – funds a voice service predominately provided over Telstra’s copper network and public payphones. Evidently, the USO is outdated and doesn’t reflect the reliance of households and businesses on data and mobile voice services. Take, for instance, the $44 million spent annually on payphone maintenance. That’s only $4 million less than the government allocates to the Black Spot Program, an initiative that builds and upgrades vital telecommunications infrastructure, connecting rural communities.

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Cairns blackspots to get boost after $8m Optus mobile tower plan

08 Dec 2016

THE locations of 15 new ­mobile towers across Cairns will still be subject to community consultation as Optus moves to pour $8 million into improving 4G communications in the city.

But chief executive Allen Lew said yesterday the new towers were not a response to customer complaints about poor coverage throughout the city.

The infrastructure is in addition to 72 new tower locations co-funded by the Commonwealth and State governments, Telstra, Optus and councils announced last week as part of the second round of the national Mobile Black Spot Program.

“It’s more because we feel people are using mobile phones a lot more and we want the best use of the phones, so they can use them in buildings as well as when they're out and about in the Cairns area,” he said.

Mr Lew said the company was still in discussion about the final location for a number of new towers.

Holloways Beach residents were disappointed in July when it was revealed a spot in the Billy Jagar Environmental Reserve was earmarked for that suburb’s new tower, instead of a piece of land on the AFL grounds subleased by the Cairns City Lions and offered by the club.

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Data Drought: States call for inquiry over mobile black spot funding

08 Dec 2016

A MOBILE black spot spat between state and federal governments is opening up over the latest round of funding for telecommunication towers.

Two state governments have written to the Auditor-General to request an investigation of how the Commonwealth allocated round two funding for its Mobile Black Spot Program.

The Federal Government last week released its plan to invest $60 million in 266 new and upgraded mobile base stations, which it claimed would cover 1400 black spots.

Of the 266 towers, 32 were in Victoria and 15 in South Australia, with the majority going to Queensland (76) and Western Australia (78).

According to Victoria’s Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, Philip Dalidakis, that is not enough.

“Not only is the Turnbull Government short-changing Victorians on transport infrastructure, they’re now taking important funds away from our most disconnected regional communities,” Mr Dalidakis said.

Mr Dalidakis said 31 eligible Victorian sites had been overlooked for round two funding.

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Data Drought: Harvesting’s black spot nightmare

08 Dec 2016

POOR mobile phone reception costs Nullawil farmer Darren Barker money.

The sheep and crop farmer said machinery breakdowns during the critical harvest period needed urgent attention and the inability to call a service department from out in the field meant lost time.

“If there’s no one home on the radio, you have to drive home to get someone out to fix the machine,” he said.

Phil Streeter from O’Connors Farm Machinery in Horsham said it was a common battle with phone reception when he was trying to help farmers.

“Farmers are climbing on to the roof of their tractor to get a signal and you’re only getting every third word because the reception is so bad,” he said.

“If you’re trying to troubleshoot the problem, it means trying different things, so they’re back in the cab and then have to get back up on the roof to call you back to tell you if it has worked or not.


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