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People ‘crying out’ for better mobile coverage, says advocacy group

07 Oct 2017

A telecommunications advocacy group has welcomed $50 million in state government funding to improve phone and internet issues in regional NSW.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said it wanted to see more detail about how the government plans to spend the money, but remains hopeful it will make a significant difference.

“People in rural, regional and remote areas are crying out for improved and extended mobile coverage,” a spokesman said.

“Mobile coverage around important community areas and along highways and roads will benefit people’s lives and also increase safety for when accidents occur.

“$50 million is a significant amount of money, which will translate into real benefits for regional consumers, particularly if used to build on existing initiatives like the federal Mobile Black Spots Program.”

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Intelsat and Intel reckon satellite spectrum could help with 5G's coming capacity crunch

05 Oct 2017

Intelsat and Intel reckon there's a chunk of spectrum currently devoted to satellite operations that could be useful for capacity-starved mobile comms.

The two (unrelated) outfits have submitted a joint proposal to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking that it consider clearing some C-band wavelengths to prepare for the advent of 5G services.

“Intelsat and Intel urge the Commission to allow co-primary terrestrial mobile operations in the 3700-4200 MHz band through commercial agreements between terrestrial mobile interests and primarily affected FSS satellite operators”, the submission [PDF] suggests.

In particular, the proposal focuses on terrestrial use of C-band frequencies allocated to downlinks, because in spite of the high value of that spectrum to satellite operations, those frequencies also have propagation characteristics that are valuable to mobile operators.

As with any spectrum that's already in use, the document recognises the sensitivities such a proposal would trigger – in fact, even in the joint submission, the companies say they haven't wrapped up their own wrangling over the implementation details.

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Vodafone and Optus boost 4G regional coverage

05 Oct 2017

Vodafone Australia has announced the expansion of 4G services in Central West NSW with the addition of nearly 1400 square kilometres to its mobile footprint in the region, while Optus yesterday announced a further $1.7 million spend for its network in Bathurst.

Both carriers are not backward in coming forward about spruiking their commitment to regional mobile investment, issuing regular updates about their network expansions.

Under the federal government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme, Vodafone has switched on a new mobile site at Jemalong near Forbes. The development expands Vodafone mobile voice and data services in the Jemalong Irrigation District and nearby Bedgerabong.

Vodafone’s mobile coverage in the Central West has also been extended with the construction of two new sites at Noonbinna outside Cowra and Weethalle near West Wyalong. The Noonbinna site provides coverage along parts of the Olympic Highway, Lachlan Valley Way and Noonbinna Road.

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John Barilaro and Bronnie Taylor in Junee as NSW state government pledge $50 million pledge to fix country black spots

04 Oct 2017

The state government has pledged at least $50 million to tackle poor connectivity in country NSW, promising action for regional areas that have been left behind. 

Deputy Premier John Barilaro and his Parliamentary Secretary Bronnie Taylor announced the cash splash in Junee on Tuesday morning, ahead of the Cootamundra by-election. 

“What we’ve done with the $39 million we’ve already invested was piggybacking off the federal program, partnering with Optus, Vodaphone or Telstra,” Mr Barilaro said.

“What happens usually is those areas with high population centres get the funding first.

“What we’re doing with this announcement is working through the data we already have, with local government, community groups, industry and businesses to make sure we’re also building the infrastructure in places there is need.”

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Fresh fight looms over plan for phone tower at Winsor Reserve, Macleod

04 Oct 2017

PEOPLE living near Mac­leod’s Winsor Reserve face a new fight to stop a giant mobile phone tower being built there.

Vodafone is planning to build two 30m towers in Macleod and Montmorency to improve phone coverage.


Banyule councillors agreed at a recent meeting to lease council land to Vodafone for the two towers and said they would make the plans available for public consultation.

The Macleod tower is proposed for a 36sq m space at Winsor Reserve, and Vodafone has offered to install a light on the tower to help reserve users, which include Macleod’s junior football and cricket clubs.

Plans for an Optus mobile phone tower at the reserve were scrapped in 2012 after a community outcry.

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NSW Govt pumps $50M into mobile infrastructure upgrades

03 Oct 2017

The NSW Government is set to pump at least $50 million into improving phone and data connectivity in the state’s rural and regional areas.

The funding commitment is part of the NSW Government’s $1.3 billion Regional Growth Fund, which was announced in the 2017/18 NSW Budget.

It is likely that the funding commitment includes the $4 million set aside for better mobile phone services along the NSW Central Coast rail line. That investment complements the $12 million pledged by the Federal Government for the infrastructure upgrade.

Indeed, the NSW Government is now on the hunt suppliers to upgrade the mobile telecommunications infrastructure along the stretch of NSW coast set to receive the funding.

The total funding commitment of $16 million for the proposed project includes $4 million from the NSW Government.

“Mobile drop outs and blackspots are incredibly frustrating for commuters along the Central Coast Line, and the Turnbull Government is delivering on its election commitment to fix the problem.” Australia’s Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, said in a statement late last month.

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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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