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Game of Phones: Telco shares to June 2017 see Telstra down; Optus, Aldi and Amaysim up

22 Aug 2017

Kantar has released its carrier share figures for the Australian consumer mobile market up to June 2017, and as usual, the game of carrier share numbers has changed.

The great Game of Phone contracts has seen the telco market shift, most notably for Telstra which is down on all fronts in the total market, pre-paid and post-paid.

Meanwhile, Telstra’s arch and original enemy, Optus, the perennial number two, is still firmly in second spot and still well behind Telstra, but has seen all of its figures rise.

Kantar’s full figures are embedded below, with Kantar Worldpanel Comtech APAC’s Strategic Insight Director, Tamsin Timpson, giving us a great wrap of the current market.

Noting that Optus has shone in the post-paid market, Timpson said that Kantar’s latest data “shows the postpaid sector making up 65% of the total mobile market, with over half falling into the traditional SIM and phone tariff type".

“Pre-paid customers account for 35% of the mobile base, with 77% recharging as and when needed. At the total market level, Optus displays the biggest growth of 2.4% to 24.2%.”

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Could a phone call have saved a sister’s life?

19 Aug 2017

Hayette Hanna wonders if her sister might still be alive today if there was better phone reception along Picton Road.

On a dark night in September 2015 Ms Hanna was a passenger in a car driven by her sister when they were involved in a head-on collision on Picton Road.

It was a collision that killed her sister – a widow and mother of five – and injured her so badly she still hasn't been able to return to work.

“An ice-affected driver crossed onto the wrong side of the road and collected us,” Ms Hanna said.

“He killed my sister and he seriously injured me.”

There wasn’t much passing traffic at 7.30pm on that Tuesday night, but, as luck would have it, an off-duty police officer called Cheryl was passing by.

Ms Hanna’s own mobile didn’t work; she couldn't call emergency services or her husband Joe. So Cheryl tried to call on her own phone.

“Cheryl connected with Joe and said, “this is Cheryl from NSW Police’ and that’s all he heard and then phone died.

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Mid August Update

19 Aug 2017

Vodafone recently announced a $2 Billion upgrade to its network double what Optus recently announced. While that sounds impressive it includes already announced funding for Spectrum purchases and it's fibre transmission rollout. However, Vodafone expect to build and upgrade 1800 towers with this money with 700mhz and rural 1800mhz most likely being a major focus. Vodafone is still haemorrhaging cash, how long it can keep that up remains to be seen, with TPG entering the market it’s hard to see how Vodafone can recover from this point.

This fortnight Vodafone managed 13 new sites most of which were in NSW and most were existing Optus sites or in conjunction with Optus. Vodafone also managed 37 site upgrades with Vic receiving most of the attention, Vodafone are also announcing a lot of 4G1800 proposals in rural areas which is great to see, however their 700mhz rollout has not yet shown up any proposals. 4G2100 continues to be a major focus for Vodafone.

Optus continues to deploy new towers with a staggering 32 new sites this fortnight with VIC and NSW getting the bulk 11 and 9 respectively.  Many of these sites were rural with many sites right across rural Victoria as well as the NT. Optus continues to deploy its satellite backhaul small sites which is great to see also proposing a bunch more especially in northern WA. Optus also managed to upgrade a further 30 sites most of which were in NSW, with 4G700 and 4G2600 being the main focus, but a few 3G only joint Vodafone sites also got some much needed attention. 

Telstra continues playing catch up with it 700mhz rollout upgrading a respectable 53 sites and NSW receiving the bulk of the attention. Telstra also deployed 11 new sites with several Blackspot sites being among them.

NBN activated 6 new sites and upgraded a further 5 sites. NBN is still proposing new sites with this fortnight adding 4 new rural site proposals.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra is still holding firm and has increased by 2 sites. Optus is ahead of Telstra however in 4G700 by 1089 sites.

This writer also finally got NBN connected, and I will post about my experiences soon, it was quite the eye opener.

Telstra to open budget mobile telco

17 Aug 2017

Telstra is expanding its budget internet brand into a new mobile business to compete in the "price sensitive market".

Chief executive Andy Penn revealed the imminent launch of Belong Mobile, an extension "no frills" broadband business Belong which opened for business in 2013. According to Telstra, Belong has more than 150,000 fixed broadband customers, including more than 70,000 NBN services.

Penn said the new brand would target the price sensitive segment, which he estimated to account for 25 to 30 percent of the mobile market by 2020. No further details on specific products were given.

"We will be providing more details shortly but we are excited about the opportunities available for Belong Mobile and believe it will be as successful as Belong in fixed," said Penn.

Telstra is placing Belong Mobile up against a handful of budget telcos launched in Australia in recent years, as well as the impending launch of TPG's own network that will rival the big three operators.

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Vodafone customers moan about sluggish data abroad

16 Aug 2017

No, non, nein says Brit telco's marketing bods, 'we don't throttle'

Vodafone customers are complaining their data is being throttled while on hols, with supposedly 4G services dropping to sluggish speeds of 2Mbps.

One affected customer, who has been with the UK-headquartered telco for around a decade, moaned he experienced problems with data roaming in the Netherlands and Cyprus recently.

The punter visited the same place in Holland for the last couple of years and said up until recently the service had been fine. "But since the switch to inclusive and free data it's been shit."

Vodafone's website stated: "We never 'throttle' – at home, or abroad – so you'll always enjoy full-speed roaming."

The issue first seemed to arise last month, even causing Alan Sugar, the normally retiring business tycoon, to vent on Twitter.

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Vodafone's Massive Overhaul: More Honest Plans, Better Phone Repayments

16 Aug 2017

Vodafone is making big, big changes to the way it operates. Two-year lock-in contracts for mobile plans are a thing of the past, and you'll no longer be locked in to ongoing handset repayments either: you can buy a new phone outright, or pay it off over 12, 24 or 36 months.

The new Vodafone plans separate voice/text/data from mobile handset repayments, making it clearer what customers are paying and what they're paying it for. If you buy a handset from Vodafone, you can get it outright on a SIM-only month-to-month plan or discounted 12 month plan, or pay it off monthly over 12, 24 or 36 months alongside one of the telco's new Red plans.

The new plans range from $30 to $100, with anything from 3GB to a massive 50GB of data. All include unlimited national calls and text messages, but there are also Global plans with international call minutes and a Qantas Frequent Flyer points bonus on sign-up. If you sign up for 12 months, you'll get double data.

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Fixed 5G wireless to become fibre competitor by 2025

16 Aug 2017

By 2025, 1.4 billion 5G connections will see fixed wireless technology becoming a fibre competitor, according to Juniper Research.

The firm is predicting that from 1 million 5G connections in 2019, which is now being billed as “the anticipated first year of commercial launch”, will grow to 1.4 billion connections in 2025, an “average annual growth of 232%".

Juniper’s new research, dubbed “5G Market Strategies: Consumer & Enterprise Opportunities & Forecasts 2017-2025” is on sale to relevant parties at relevant prices, and notes that for 5G to be successful, “5G fixed wireless broadband would need to meet expectations in real-world scenarios to compete with fibre broadband".

Naturally, Juniper also has a free whitepaper to tempt you into purchasing its full report, entitled: “5G: How Operators Can Maximise ROI.”

The report’s key findings include the info that the top three 5G countries with the highest number of 5G connections by 2025 will be China, the US and Japan, accounting for 55% of all 5G connections by 2025.

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Melbourne Cup: Racing authorities campaign for right to access mobile phone metadata

16 Aug 2017

Punters make up to "600 bets a second" on Melbourne Cup day, but authorities charged with upholding the integrity of racing cannot view the phone records of anyone suspected of engaging in suspicious activity.

Until 2015, stewards and integrity officials in four states had the power to request phone records, but changes by the Federal Government, made as part of the metadata laws, stripped them of the tool.

Before the changes more than 80 groups had access, now it is just 21 key law enforcement agencies.

Authorities have been campaigning to get the powers back to ensure the integrity of racing is upheld.

Victorian racing integrity commissioner Sal Perna has made several requests to Attorney-General George Brandis' department to restore the powers, and he has the backing of the Andrews Government to do so.

With the Spring Racing Carnival just months away there is a renewed push for the powers to be reinstated.

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Telcos willing to pay more for 5G: Gartner

14 Aug 2017

The telecommunications industry is prepared to pay more for 5G mobile capabilities than they are willing to pay for 4G, according to a newly published global survey.

According to the survey by analyst firm Gartner, 75% of end-user organisations would be willing to pay more for 5G mobile capabilities, while just 24% would be unwilling to pay more for 5G than for 4G.

"Those in the telecom industry are more likely to be prepared to pay more than those in other industries," said Sylvain Fabre, research director at Gartner.

"End-user organisations in the manufacturing, services and government sectors, for example, are less likely to be willing to pay a premium for 5G than telecom companies, which are willing to pay a 5G premium for their internal use."

Fabre says that in addition to offering better prices for industries in which users are less convinced of the business benefits of 5G, communications service providers (CSPs) must create value propositions that entice customers to start 5G migration projects sooner.

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The Best Smartphone Plans With Lots Of Data

14 Aug 2017

Do you remember when Optus used to include unmetered social media data in plans? Back in the good old days when most of Facebook was text-based and videos were unheard of.

These days, social media is one of the major data killers on our phones, not just because of the prevalence of videos, but also to the way that social media platforms prioritise the visibility of video. We recently ran a few tests and found that an hour of regular Facebook browsing uses about 80MB, an hour of watching videos on Facebook uses (a pretty reasonable) 160MB, and that an hour in Instagram burns through a huge 720MB.

Which is a long way of saying what you already know: you need data. Lots of it.

Happily, the telcos are listening and data inclusions are moving upwards in big chunks. Below are the plans with the biggest data inclusions you can buy right now.

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