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Cottage Point: The Sydney suburb technology forgot with limited internet or mobile phone coverage

22 Dec 2016

WELCOME to the Sydney suburb trapped in the dark ages.

Business owners and residents at Cottage Point say limited mobile phone and internet reception mean it is the town the 21st Century left behind with.

New safety concerns and business frustrations have now rekindled a decade-long appeal to bring it up to speed.

The only hope is for a telecommunications tower to be built through Federal Government mobile black spot funding, which would provide the infrastructure necessary for reliable coverage.

The suburb, on the fringe of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, is just 29km as the crow flies from the Sydney CBD.

But, as well as dodgy phone and internet reception, it is without public transport, water, sewerage, garbage collection and kerb and guttering.

The dire technological state has prompted the local Marine Rescue to issue a warning that if the mobile black spot is not fixed, there will almost certainly be a death on the water.

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Mid December Update

18 Dec 2016

Telstra this fortnight put in a solid effort as Optus and Vodafone took a bit of a breather. Upgrading 79 sites Telstra's focus was on 4G700 but also 4G1800 got some action also, Telstra also installed 11 new sites 5 of which were in QLD. So far there doesn’t seems to be much happening with 900Mhz, A couple sites have had 2G900 removed and at least one had it added maybe as a place holder, Telstra has 68 sites with 4G900 60 of which are in QLD. There has been no announcement as to what Telstra is planning to do with that spectrum, My guess is it will switch on a 4G900 network but there has been little sign of that so far.

Optus comes in next with 58 site upgrades with the bulk being in NSW and VIC. Also Optus installed 19 new sites with QLD and NSW getting the bulk of the new sites. Rural QLD got several towers enabled along the A71, A4, A2 and A6.

Vodafone with the bulk of its upgrade spend over managed 21 site upgrades and 4 new sites, with the upgrades being a hodgepodge of various things.

NBN continues its current pace activating 10 new sites, and also managed to upgrade a further 12 sites.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has decreased by 11 sites as Optus takes its breather. Optus is ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 1106 sites. 72.77% of Optus towers now support 4G700 whereas Telstra hasn't reached the halfway mark of its network yet at 44.36%.

WATCH: Take a look at Telstra's new Gladstone region tower

17 Dec 2016

AFTER much frustration, the residents of Ubobo, in the Boyne Valley, will finally be able to connect to their loved ones.

Telstra activated a new mobile base station in the region this week.

In July this year, The Observer printed a number of letters from Ubobo residents who were unhappy about the progress (or lack of it) with the mobile phone tower.

Anger over phone service also came to a head in the Boyne Valley in July when a much-loved dad of three and experienced timber cutter Trev McClure was badly injured at work, but he didn't have phone reception to call for help.

Boyne Valley locals were left wondering if Mr McClure may have survived if the area had the same reception as those in urban areas. 

To see the tower: click here.

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Cape Tribulation black spots could be a thing of the past

16 Dec 2016

CAPE Tribulation is set to benefit from improved mobile phone coverage thanks to a multi-million dollar boost for Queensland.

The Queensland Government will co-fund 72 tower locations with the Commonwealth Government, Telstra, Optus and councils under the national Mobile Black Spot Program. A further four locations were successful in being awarded federal funding under the program for Optus satellite small cells.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said the state had committed $15 million in the 2016-17 state budget to further improve mobile coverage throughout Queensland.

“Mobile coverage can be a life or death matter for people dealing with natural disasters but it is also important for everyday life, business, tourism, education and social connection,” Enoch said.

“Providing mobile coverage at key points along remote roads is critical for locals and tourists alike.

“In this round of funding, for example, the Burke and Wills roadhouse (Four Ways) location in the Cloncurry shire will have improved mobile coverage with co-funding by the state government in partnership with three separate councils.”

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TPG seeks Telstra piggyback into mobile market

16 Dec 2016

Easier entry for a fourth operator?

TPG Telecom is hoping to gain access to Telstra’s regional mobile network to bolster the reach of its planned mobile network.

The telco, which has acquired spectrum assets and has been plotting a 4G network this year, said in an ACCC submission that it remained “interested” in becoming Australia’s fourth mobile network operator.

However, it lamented the high barriers to entry, both in terms of spectrum and capital costs. While it could build its own base stations in metro areas, it appears to be looking for other ways to increase the reach of that investment.

“The barriers to entry for a new entrant into the mobile market are extremely high, arguably higher than any other market in Australia,” TPG said in its submission.

“Obtaining a mobile roaming arrangement is critical to enable the new entrant to build out its network and to supply a service that will be acceptable to the essential early adopters that the new entrant will need to entice to build a successful business.

“It will enable TPG to bring innovative products nationwide, including into the regions and, in so doing, help to mitigate the incredibly high cost of entering the mobile market.”

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Optus says Vodafone blew its chance on 4G

16 Dec 2016

Boils down to 'commercial priorities'.

Vodafone squandered its first-mover advantage on 4G and can only blame its own “commercial priorities” and network problems for its market woes, according to Optus.

The stinging rebuke came as Optus declared it would not support a regulated opening of Telstra’s regional mobile network to other telcos, even though it could benefit as a “potential user” of such a service.

Vodafone and TPG support the opening of Telstra’s network. Vodafone claims Telstra’s “entrenched mobile network monopoly” is harming competition in regional areas, and that it – and other competitors – “cannot feasibly duplicate” regional infrastructure.

However Optus argues that carriers have continued to deploy infrastructure to varying degrees.

Optus’ own network investments had helped erode price premiums on Telstra services, it said, even though it was comparatively late to the 4G party.

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New towers to boost mobile coverage in Balonne Shire

15 Dec 2016

IN A win for the Balonne Shire, two new network towers are to be built in the St George area.

Maranoa MP David Littleproud was in town this week to make the announcement.

One of the new towers will be off the Bundoran road and the other off the Castlereach Hwy between St George and Dirranbandi.

Moon Rocks owner David Moon is very happy.

"Existing capabilities are not good enough, so I applaud the Federal Government for this initiative, putting up the money - it is a great thing,” he said.

"This extra tower on the Bundoran Road will take the strain off the main tower in St George, and for the 30- plus employees at Moon Rocks and other surrounding farms,” he said.

In round two of the Coalition's Mobile Black Spots Program 10 new or upgraded towers will be put in Western Queensland, which will "increase connectivity across my electorate,” Mr Littleproud said.

"Communications between St George and Dirranbandi will be strengthened with investment at Bundoran Rd and on the Castlereach Hwy,” he said.

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Telstra banned from 700 MHz auction

15 Dec 2016

Owns too much spectrum already.

Telstra has been barred from buying any more 700 MHz spectrum for its 4G network at an auction next year, after the government heeded advice from the competition watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)'s advice to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield was that mobile users would be better served if the remaining spectrum was bought by Optus, Vodafone or TPG.

It said this could be enforced by setting a limit on the amount of 700 MHz spectrum any one carrier is able to hold to 2x20 MHz – the amount Telstra bought in the original 2013 auction.

Fifield said in a statement he had agreed to the allocation limit.

"This means that no mobile network operator can own more than two 20 MHz blocks of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, ensuring that the auction promotes competition and that the spectrum is allocated in the long‑term interests of end-users," he said in a statement.

A Telstra spokesperson criticised the move as "an unnecessary restriction, without any evidence of a problem to justify it".

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Spectrum auction could boost opportunities for TPG 4G network

15 Dec 2016

Govt sets limits for 4G-friendly spectrum auction

TPG could potentially pick up a significant chunk of spectrum in the 700MHz band, boosting its ability to roll out a 4G mobile network, under rules set by the government for an upcoming auction.

The federal government today released the reserve price and spectrum limits for the upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700MHz band.

The government revealed in October that it would auction off the 2x15MHz spectrum left over from the 2013 Digital Dividend auction.

The government had previously indicated it was considering selling 2x10MHz of the spectrum directly to Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) but after a public consultation communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield announced a competitive auction for the spectrum.

The proposal to sell spectrum directly to VHA was opposed by Telstra, Optus and TPG, with TPG confirming that it is keen to get its hands 700MHz spectrum.

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Optus phone tower in Alkimos to improve service in the area

14 Dec 2016

OPTUS has installed a mobile phone tower in Alkimos, with service |expected to start in coming months.

The tower is in the Alkimos Waste Water Treatment Plant buffer zone and is expected to improve services to people in the growing suburb. Alkimos Beach Progress Association president Chris White said residents were pleased to see the tower erected in November.

“The biggest problem since we moved in has been mobile coverage – people have been making phone calls on the footpath each night,” he said.

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