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'Not holding my breath': Optus news fails to assure local

21 Jul 2017

OPTUS has announced it will add a new mobile site at Boyne Island to bring the company's mobile coverage to the area for the first time.

The growing demand for mobile data is what triggered the proposal to upgrade an existing telecommunications facility at Centenary Drive.

The proposal calls for three new panel antennas to be attached to a tower, where previously only Telstra equipment existed.

It includes a new shelter to house equipment to be mounted at ground level as well.

"In order to reduce the visual impact of the site, Optus will install the technology on an existing Telstra tower," an Optus spokesperson said.

"The site will provide coverage to the residential areas of Boyne Island along Handley Drive and parts of Boyne Island Rd."

"Coverage will also extend to parts of Tannum Sands."

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Optus unveils billion dollar mobile spruce-up

21 Jul 2017

Optus is giving its mobile network a billion dollar spruce-up in what is the single largest regional capital expenditure plan in the telco’s 25-year history in Australia.

The telco will pour $1 billion into improving and expanding its mobile network in regional Australia by the end of June 2018, with chief executive Allen Lew saying the initiative will see service quality improve across the board for all Optus customers.

“This represents one of the single largest investments in regional mobile infrastructure in Australia’s history,” he said.

“Optus’ funding is earmarked to expand coverage and improve overall network performance for residents, businesses, and our wholesale partnership.

“It will also help build the network resilience that is critical to supporting public safety and emergency services during natural disasters,” he added.

Under the stated strategy, Optus will build 500 new mobile sites across regional and remote parts of Australia, including 114 sites under the federal government’s mobile black spots program. It will also complete its 4G upgrade program with more than 1800 sites transitioned from 3G to 4G technology.

Extra 4G capacity will be added to more than 200 sites.

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Software providers eye opportunity for sensor solutions

21 Jul 2017

THE growing fleet of farm management software providers eagerly await the rollout of narrowband technology in NSW, waiting for an opportunity to finally link automated production data with farm management platforms.

Discovery Ag and the National Narrowband Network Network (NNN Co) announced a joint venture dubbed Connected Country.

Starting in NSW’s Central West, Connected country is building Australia’s first rural narrowband network to link an on-farm internet of things for in-field sensors to the web.

Narrowband Networks do not carry enough data for phone calls.

They are designed to link sensors that measure soil moisture, weather, frost alarms and so on to the web, where software systems can aid management of input usage, pasture growth and feed budgeting, cell grazing, crop rotation and so on.

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Telecom Lobbyists Downplayed ‘Theoretical’ Security Flaws in Mobile Data Backbone

20 Jul 2017

According to a confidential document obtained by Motherboard, wireless communications lobby group CTIA took issue with an in-depth report by the Department of Homeland Security on mobile device security, including flaws with the SS7 network.

In a white paper sent to members of Congress and the Department of Homeland Security, CTIA, a telecom lobbying group that represents Verizon, AT&T, and other wireless carriers, argued that "Congress and the Administration should reject the [DHS] Report's call for greater regulation" while downplaying "theoretical" security vulnerabilities in a mobile data network that hackers may be able to use to monitor phones across the globe, according to the confidential document obtained by Motherboard. However, experts strongly disagree about the threat these vulnerabilities pose, saying the flaws should be taken seriously before criminals exploit them.

SS7, a network and protocol often used to route messages when a user is roaming outside their provider's coverage, is exploited by criminals and surveillance companies to track targets, intercept phone calls or sweep up text messages. In some cases, criminals have used SS7 attacks to obtain bank account two-factor authentication tokens, and last year, California Rep. Ted Lieu said that, for hackers, "the applications for this vulnerability are seemingly limitless."

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MOBILE PHONE TOWER FAIL: Material fell from Optus antenna

20 Jul 2017

A VODAFONE spokesperson has revealed an 'interesting development' which was discovered as part of their investigations into the a mobile phone tower incident causing traffic chaos at Springfield.

Yesterday about 4pm part of a mobile phone tower came off and fell onto Sinnathamby Blvd.

Acting mayor Paul Tully said it's lucky 'no one was killed' in the incident.

Major traffic delays are continuing this morning after the piece of shrouding fell from the top of a 10-storey building at Springfield Central.

Initially believed to be a Vodafone tower, the service provider has now revealed the piece that fell was from an Optus tower located on the same building.

"Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are all there on top of the same building," a Vodafone spokesperson said.

"Even though the shrouding was covering Optus antenna under our agreement joint venture agreement with Optus we are responsible for the equipment.

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NBN Co to grow fixed wireless footprint

19 Jul 2017

Brings in up to 72,800 homes - but from where?

NBN Co will expand its fixed wireless footprint by up to 72,800 premises as the balance of its multi-technology mix continues to shift.

Minister for regional communications Fiona Nash said in a statement that fixed wireless towers will now "serve up to six percent of Australians”.

NBN Co’s corporate plan no longer breaks out the percentage of premises to be served by fixed wireless, instead noting that both fixed wireless and satellite will reach a combined eight percent of premises.

However, during recent technology trials, NBN Co’s CEO Bill Morrow said that fixed wireless was destined to service 600,000 premises. Based on the old 11.9 million total premises number, that is equal to 5.04 percent of the footprint.

One complication is last week’s confirmation that the total premises in the NBN footprint is now 11.2 million, not 11.9 million. On that re-calculation, about 5.35 percent of premises had been in the fixed wireless footprint to date.

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Mid July Update

18 Jul 2017

Telstra continues to power along with 16 new sites this fortnight as well as 59 upgraded sites and 4G2600 now being a major focus. QLD and WA were the main recipients of the new towers with 6 and 5 sites respectively. Telstra has begun deploying 4G only sites including sites now that have only 4G700, these appear to be small sites and they are appearing in both rural and metro areas. Other small cell sites also include other frequencies such as 4G1800 and 4G2600.

Optus continue to deploy new sites also and managed 23 new sites as well as 33 site upgrades. Optus also continue to propose almost as many new sites as well as a further 55 sites to be upgraded. So, Optus doesn’t appear to be done yet with upgrading its network with many of the upgrade proposals featuring 4G1800 in rural areas, I suspect that rollout may get under way soon.

Vodafone added 4 sites to its network and upgraded a further 24 with again 4G2100 being the main focus but some 4G850 is still being deployed. Proposals for Vodafone has also fallen on a cliff with only 5 new site proposals and 7 site upgrade proposals and no sign of any 4G700 upgrades yet.

NBN activated 4 new sites as well as upgraded a further 3. NBN also made a further 5 new site proposals most were on existing telco sites but 2 of them were new site proposals. This writer has finally been allowed to sign up for NBN, out of the blue my address has become ready for service despite NBN's site saying otherwise. I've signed up with My Republic as I think they have the most competitive plan on the market and are claiming speeds in excess of 30mb/s on average (5 times faster than a dodo). I’ll happily provide a review of my experiences once I'm up and running.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has increased by 3 sites as Optus holds Telstra at bay. Optus is ahead of Telstra however in 4G700 by 1088 sites.

2017 Mid Year Update

17 Jul 2017


Optus has continued on where it left off last year so far deploying 282 new towers which is just shy of Optus' 370 it deployed for the entire year last year, so that’s quite a significant ramp up. Optus is currently deploying new towers at a rate almost double that of Telstra and almost triple that of Vodafone.  In the past 6 months Optus has upgraded 541 sites with 4G700 bringing their total to 78.30% of their towers or a 5.3% increase in that time. In fact, Optus only has 658 towers without 4G which is just over 10% of their entire network. NSW was the biggest focus for Optus in the last 6 months, with 113 new sites and 249 site upgrades representing almost half of its activity. Optus is now deploying new rural sites with 1800mhz which is spectrum they recently acquired, however a wider rollout of that band has not yet begun, some indications however suggest it may get underway soon. Optus switched off their 2G services in NT and WA on April the 3rd, will switch off all other states August 1st.


Telstra has also ramped things up installing 146 new towers in the past 6 months compared to 191 for the entire year last year. Telstra also upgraded 719 sites so far which is down on last year so far, but Telstra continues to deploy 4G700 and more recently has been deploying 4G2600 more widely also. However just over 30% of Telstra’s network still does not have 4G services, since Telstra’s network is larger it will take longer to be upgraded assuming Telstra plans on upgrading its entire network eventually. Telstra has recently deployed several 4G700 only sites which could be the beginning of the phase out of 3G, much as Telstra phased out 2G when they stopped deploying it back in around 2008. Telstra is rolling out its 4G900 network also but not as quickly as its other deployments.


Vodafone has deployed 103 new sites so far this year which is exactly in line with their deployments last year. Vodafone also upgraded a further 968 sites which again is in line with what they managed the year before, however their upgrades were mostly enabling 4G2100 which most likely was done without any hardware upgrades as that had already been done with their previous 4G850 deployment. Vodafone’s deployment of 700mhz has not yet begun, and I haven’t seen any proposals yet either, I would have expected to have seen proposals by now.


TPG has not begun rolling out its network yet as far as I can see, although there are a few mentions of iinet (a TPG brand) towers in the data, nothing significant has showed up yet.


NBN continues to activate towers as a similar rate to last year with 127 towers activated so far this year. NBN also upgraded 55 further towers with 4G3500 which is down on last year so far. NBN is now beginning to focus on outer metro areas around the capital cities, and as such many of those towers are 4G3500 only towers. Most rural towers will eventually get both bands (4G2300 and 4G3500) which will allow NBN's new 100mb/s service set to launch mid next year.

Mobile phone tower at Perth park may breach buffer zone

17 Jul 2017

A fight is brewing between residents and the City of Canning over a proposal to build a 30m mobile Vodafone phone tower in a local park.

If it is approved it will be built in the middle of Hossack Reserve in Parkwood.

The council could charge $25,000 a year in rent, but many locals are angry and have labelled it an eyesore

The tower would replace an existing lighting tower, but at 31.5m high, would be about 6.5m taller. Six antennae to carry mobile phone signals would be mounted on top.

A buffer zone for such towers is usually set at 300m. But the nearest homes are just 180m away and the council could choose not to adhere to the policy.

“We’re also concerned that once something like that starts there will be other towers,” resident Kathy Smith said.

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VIDEO: Regional wireless ISPs concerned ACMA 3.6GHz 5G spectrum push bad for the bush

15 Jul 2017

The ACMA’s tune-up consultation day for use of 3.6GHz spectrum for 5G sees telcos happy, but earth station operators and specifically regional wireless ISPs are very concerned.

3.6GHz. It is smack back within the spectrum frequencies that telcos and telco authorities worldwide are suggesting is the best to deliver forthcoming 5G technologies.

So, the ACMA has been working on what it needs to do to make 3.6GHz the pioneer band for 5G, and what it means for the industry and existing users of the band.

In October 2016, the ACMA issued a discussion paper entitled “Future use of 1.5GHz and 3.6GHz bands” as an initial investigation, and received 72 submissions to the consultation, and one supplementary submission.

Then, in June this year, the ACMA issued a consultation paper to move to the preliminary planning stage, seeking more industry comment, dubbed “Future approach to the 3.6GHz band”, with a consultation date closing 4 August.

As part of the consultation process, a “spectrum tune-up” event was held on 12 July in the ACMA Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra offices, all linked up via video-conference, providing the opportunity for direct feedback from relevant stakeholders

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