Network builders: LTE costs will transform the cell tower biz in 2016
Analysis The vast cost of keeping up with demand for mobile data is intensifying the pressure on mobile operators’ capex budgets and accelerating their moves to improve their infrastructure cost base. Major agreements to share passive and active cell site equipment are becoming commonplace as regulators ease up on previous restrictions, accepting that, in the age of the MVNO, a common network need not reduce consumer choice at the services and pricing level.
The need to reduce network costs is also driving operators to out-source their towers or their whole RANs, and to seek new mechanisms to acquire and manage sites – a trend now extending from macrocells to small cells amid the move towards densification, as Sprint’s new site leasing initiative illustrates.
And in turn, all these changes are creating significant upheaval in the tower business itself, with a trend towards towercos, rather than operator-owned sites, being offset by the revenue squeeze that sharing can create for those independent site owners.
To continue reading the article: click here. (theregister.co.uk)
NBN puts mobile tower backhaul on fast-track
NBN is planning to expedite the commercial launch of backhaul services for mobile phone towers by up to nine months.
The network operator revealed in roadmap documents this week that commercial availability of its cell site access service would be moved up from Q4 2016 to March.
Similarly, trials of the service that were set to run until the end of this year have also been shifted forward to expire in March.
An NBN spokesperson declined to comment to iTnews on the reason for the fast-tracking of the trial end and commercial service launch.
Questions on the number of cell sites in the trial and in forward bookings from the new March commencement date also went unanswered.
To continue reading the article: click here. (itnews.com.au)
Mid Janurary Update
For this fortnightly period, Vodafone continues its rural 4G roll-out with 152 tower upgrades focusing on ACT and QLD, with only a few stragglers in NSW. Vodafone also activated 7 new towers 5 of which were in SA.
Optus also picked up the pace continuing their 4G roll-out in eastern mainland states, upgrading 100 sites as well as adding a further 16 sites to their network, 7 of which were in SA. This brings Optus' total tower count up to 5800.
Telstra came in 3rd this time around with 93 upgrades fairly evenly spread across states, continuing their 700Mhz roll-out as well as a few 1800Mhz and the occasional 2600Mhz. Telstra also added 10 new sites across the mainland east coast.
NBN activated 14 new towers and now have a total of 1914(active and proposed) towers listed in the Rfnsa data. NBN continues to propose towers using 3500Mhz mostly around the outskirts of capitol cities and some using exiting mobile sites.
The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 38 as Optus picked up the pace. Optus is now ahead of Telstra in 4G 700Mhz by 1108 sites.
2015 End of Year Update
2015 was undoubtedly the year of Optus, installing 457 new towers and upgrading a further 2727 towers with the main focus in NSW and VIC, it was a monstrous effort by Optus. 4G 700Mhz was the main catalyst for the upgrades, however higher frequencies were also being added to most of those towers also, Optus has 2700 towers with low band 4G services. Some 3G capacity was still being added, especially 3G 2100Mhz. Optus now has just shy of 5800 towers nationwide and still has a lot of proposed upgrades yet to complete more than any other provider. Although Optus' roll-out pace has slowed in later months, it will be interesting to see if Optus gets a second wind in 2016, Telstra has really picked up as they must have felt threatened by Optus' 4G roll-out nationwide. Strategically Optus defiantly has one over on Telstra with the roll-out of their 4G 2300Mhz (capitol city only) and 2600Mhz (nationwide) networks, releasing their Home Wireless Broadband Product with 50GB of data for $70 it’s a product that is designed to replace an ADSL product in areas where ADSL is not so great. With NBN still being many years away for most, this represents a masterful strategic move where Optus can pick up many fixed line subscribers pre-NBN and migrate them to an NBN product when available. This will make inroads to Telstra's fixed line customers and is not something Telstra could offer in the near term as their roll-out of 2600Mhz is near non-existent. Although they do have enough bandwidth to offer such a product the lack of infrastructure will prevent them from offering it anytime in the next year or two, if at all. Surprisingly Optus did not participate in the Mobile black-spot program announced in 2015.
2015 was also a good year for Vodafone beating out Telstra in both new towers and Upgrades. Vodafone added 259 towers and upgraded 2455 towers also. Vodafone continued their low band 850Mhz network roll-out for both 3G and 4G with 4G 850Mhz becoming a major focus in the latter months in rural areas of QLD and NSW. Vodafone is expected to continue their rural 4G 850Mhz roll-out in the remainder of the states in 2016. Low band 4G for Vodafone is quite good only slightly behind Optus (by 200ish towers) with 2479 enabled. Vodafone also participated in the Mobile Black-spot Program picking up 70 new towers with TAS and NSW being a major focus.
Telstra really lagged behind in 2015, however in later months started out pacing the other providers. Their 4G 700Mhz roll-out has been slow, but has picked up significantly with Telstra able to claw back some of Optus' lead in later months. Telstra upgraded 1861 sites as well as added 225 new sites, fairly evenly spread across all the states not favouring any in-particular. Telstra's low band 4G has 1630 sites well behind Optus' 2738, however Telstra is still the largest network with 7441 sites in total, 1700 ahead of Optus and 2450 ahead of Vodafone. Telstra is still adding 3G 850Mhz only towers to their network in rural areas however apart from that they are not adding any further 3G capacity to their network focusing instead on 4G. Telstra also picked up 429 sites in the mobile black-spot program.
NBN activated 616 new sites in 2015, with 355 additional proposals made. NBN now has 1184 sites active which is almost half of their entire proposed network now active. NBN originally had 2100 sites as their target, but with the interim satellite debacle in the back of their mind, they have decided to add a further 240 towers bringing their target to just shy of 2300 total towers, 1912 of those towers have been announced so far.
Vodafone's Inaki Berroeta gears up for next gen mobiles
Vodafone Hutchison Australia chief executive Inaki Berroeta says improving customer satisfaction, launching tailored mobile plans and gearing up for the next generation of 5G mobile services will be top priorities for the year ahead.
Mr Berroeta nominated 2018 as a turning point for Vodafone Australia as the national broadband network gains scale across the country.
In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Berroeta said slashing customer complaint levels through increased automation, preparing for fixed-line broadband products and 5G mobile services were his priorities.
The company was playing a major role in changing the price and profile of mobile customers. It is expected to continue rebounding with subscriber and revenue growth over the next 12 months, raising pressure on and potentially reducing profit margins for rivals Telstra and Singtel-Optus.
To continue reading the article: click here. (smh.com.au)
Dedicated public safety mobile network 'not worth $6bn price tag'
Productivity Commission knocks back spectrum demands a second time.
The Productivity Commission has handed down its final verdict on a dedicated public safety LTE network, once again knocking back the spectrum demands of emergency services organisations.
The Commission has calculated that setting aside spectrum and building a national mobile communications network for the exclusive use of public safety agencies would cost roughly $6.2 billion, $4 billion more than that it would cost to buy network services off a commercial provider like Telstra or Optus over a 20-year period.
It has put its backing firmly behind the use of commercial offerings, even ahead of a hybrid approach that could see someone like Telstra offer dedicated spectrum to emergency services customers, with a spill-over option that would leverage normal network capacity.
“A commercial option is substantially lower cost because considerable existing infrastructure could be used or shared, meaning significantly less new investment is required”, said Commissioner Jonathan Coppel.
To continue reading the article: click here. (itnews.com.au)
Fixed Wireless NBN turns out worse than ADSL for some
It was supposed to be next-generation infrastructure which would make their old broadband connection obsolete. But for some connected to the NBN company’s Fixed Wireless infrastructure, the performance of the platform is leading them to question whether their old ADSL broadband was actually a better option.
When the NBN company told residents in the Pacific Haven area of Queensland in mid-2015 that it was planning to switch on next-generation broadband to their properties through deploying four Fixed Wireless towers, residents such as Grant Maw were elated.
Maw, an independent software developer who works from home, deals with clients located around the world. “For me, decent Internet means the difference between making a living or not,” he says.
The deployment of the infrastructure was also viewed as a landmark move by other residents in the area, some of whom had been struggling to get any form of usable broadband access for years.
To continue reading the article: click here. (delimiter.com.au)
End of December Update
Being the beginning of silly season and as work winds down for the year, there was a last final push to complete as much work as possible before the new year for Vodafone . They continued their rural 4G roll-out in QLD as well as in rural NSW. Vodafone upgraded 135 sites, (55 in NSW and 44 in QLD) mostly adding 4G 850 to sites as well as a few 3G 900 to some sites as the 850 band is being re-farmed. Vodafone added 2 new towers in this 2 week period but one of those is a 'Vodafone COW' (cell on wheels) so likely temporary.
Telstra upgraded 57 sites with the upgrades almost exclusively adding 700Mhz however there were a couple sites where 1800Mhz or 2600Mhz was also added. Telstra also added 3 new sites.
Optus, falling behind once again, upgraded 39 sites as well as adding 2 new sites. The upgrades mostly centered around 700Mhz and 2600Mhz.
NBN activated 8 new towers and now have a total of 1883 (active and proposed) towers listed in the Rfnsa data. NBN continues to propose towers using 3500Mhz mostly around the outskirts of capitol cities and some using exiting mobile sites.
The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra's has reduced further to 1072 sites as telstra continues the trend closing the gap and catching up to optus.
Vodafone switches on 4G in regional Queensland
Vodafone is fulfilling its promise to bring 4G connectivity to regional Australia, switching on 4G in 235 sites across Queensland.
Vodafone Australia is continuing its bid to extend mobile coverage to areas outside of its metropolitan footprint, with the telecommunications carrier rolling out 4G to regional and metro Queensland.
In order to provide coverage throughout Queensland, Vodafone refarmed its 850MHz spectrum band to extend capacity, switching it on in 235 sites. The low spectrum band penetrates buildings more effectively than higher bands, working alongside the 4G provided through the 1800MHz spectrum band, the telco explained.
"L850 will offer a variety of potential improvements, including faster streaming speeds, greater network stability, and, for some customers, 4G access for the first time," Vodafone CTO Benoit Hanssen said.
Hanssen added that the widespread uptake of streaming services has led to data usage increasing in Queensland.
"Queensland mobile data consumption on the Vodafone network has increased by over 50 percent since December 2014, and we expect to see that trend continue with more customers now able to access 4G speeds," Hanssen said.
To continue reading the article: click here. (zdnet.com)
Mid December Update
Vodafone has officially announced 4G 850Mhz upgrades around Sydney, Rural NSW and ACT, however no official word yet on QLD. Vodafone is reallocating the remainder of their 850Mhz spectrum from 3G to 4G and using their 900Mhz spectrum to take up the slack for 3G. In the data we see Vodafone upgrading 127 towers, 53 of those in NSW and 44 in QLD, all of which are for the 4G 850 upgrade. Vodafone didn't enable any new towers this period, but thats to be expected since such a massive upgrade is taking place. Although no announcement for QLD has been made, my guess is it will be next and enabled early in the new year.
Telstra continues their 700Mhz upgrades with a total of 129 tower upgrades for this fortnight focusing mostly in the eastern mainland states, Telstra also added 5 new towers.
Optus although trying to keep up upgraded a respectable 93 towers as well as adding 2 new towers. Optus continues to focus on 700Mhz as well as 2600Mhz.
NBN activated 8 more towers and has recently announced a further 240 towers to shift load off the long term satellite solution and onto the fixed wireless network. Their active tower count is now 1177 and now have a total of 1870 towers listed in the Rfnsa data. Back in May of this year NBN's total tower count was at 2057 and with the additional 240 towers that number should now be just shy of 2300 total towers to be built, which means 427 are yet to be announced in the Rfnsa data.
The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra's has grown by 8 towers to 1134 sites as Telstra also rolled out 4G on bands other in addition to their 700Mhz roll out, allowing Optus to claw back their lead slightly.