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REROC double checking where the Riverina's mobile phone blackspots are

07 Jun 2017

Riverina farmers have welcomed moves to pressure governments and businesses into fixing mobile phone “blackspots”.

Gordon Hall said he barely got any coverage around his property near Ardlethan, despite promises something would be done about it.

“We’ve gone backwards in the past 15 years while the rest of the world has gone forwards,” Mr Hall said.

“Coverage is so essential, but the cities get all the attention while the need for phone services is greater out here.”

The Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC) has begun checking phone companies’ mobile phone coverage maps, in order to secure more blackspot funding from the federal government.

The idea is to present “real-world” data to local members who can then use it to argue for more funding under the federal government’s Mobile Blackspot Program.

“We want to work out where the actual blackspots are in our region,” REROC chief Julie Briggs said.

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Vodafone aims to fix ACCC blunder

06 Jun 2017

Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) is to seek judicial review of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) draft decision to not declare a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service.

The ACCC’s draft decision to cave in to pressure from the government, Telstra, Optus and mis-informed local government and community groups has set the scene for the Federal Court to find the underlying rationale for the decision.

In a blog post VHA Chief Strategy Officer Dan Lloyd said “many people living in regional and rural areas currently have no choice about which mobile provider they use and that they are forced to pay more than they should for their service.”

The Federal Court action should provide an opportunity for the ACCC’s decision making process to be scrutinised and for the process that led to the decision to be made public.

The ACCC’s draft report is a mish-mash of contradictory statements, much of which supports a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service.

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Appeal against mobile coverage decision welcomed by farming body worried about access to telecommunications

06 Jun 2017

The state’s farming representative body has welcomed service provider Vodafone’s appeal against a decision it says will lead to poorer mobile phone services in rural areas.

Vodafone has filed for a judicial review of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s inquiry into the possibility of a wholesale domestic roaming service, saying the process failed consumers.

Last month, the ACCC announced a draft decision that it would not declare a wholesale domestic roaming service, which would have given Telstra’s competitors access to its network at regulated prices.

Victorian Farmers Federation vice president Brett Hosking said the “digital divide” between residents of cities and rural areas would widen if domestic mobile roaming was refused.

“If there isn’t any real competition for service, our rural and regional communities will suffer because the choice will be limited to one provider – Telstra – and without any challenge to Telstra’s market dominance, we will keep paying higher prices for a poor service,” Mr Hosking said.

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Blackspot sending Boreen Pt business broke

06 Jun 2017

AN ANGRY Boreen Point resident has had enough of promises from Australia's largest phone network provider, claiming he's "going broke” not being able to make and receive business calls.

Peter Fryer said he was on the brink of closing his 20-year home business due to his house being located in a "black spot” not covered by Telstra reception.

Mr Fryer said he had been repeatedly reassured by Telstra representatives that equipment to boost reception would be installed soon, however nothing had changed despite beginning inquiries almost a year ago.

"Telstra advised me a new antenna was due late last year but, no, this did not happen,” he said.

"My business is going bust as I can't be contacted via phone. I pay $85 a month for no service. I asked for a refund, but no one can do this.

"The amount (of money) I've lost, it's getting close to closing the business now.”

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New Optus mobile plans offer up to 100GB per month

05 Jun 2017

Premium My Plan options include monthly allowances to satisfy the heaviest mobile data users.

Are you sick of paying extra for exceeding your mobile data limit? Optus has launched new plans for you. Its new Premium My Plan Plus options include 30GB of data for $130 per month or 100GB for $160 per month.

On 24-month contracts, both business plans include unlimited standard national and international roaming talk and texts; unmetered streaming (iHeartRadio, Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, Netflix and Stan) and English Premier League coverage; pooled and shared data across up to five eligible devices (including mobile broadband dongles); and an optional new phone after 12 months for $99 with trade-in when recontracting for 24 months.

Roaming data in "selected countries" is included: 1.5GB per month on the $160 plan and 1GB on the $130 plan.

Customers on the $160 plan are promised fast-track customer service.

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End Of May Update

04 Jun 2017

Optus appear to be expanding their new "4.5G" network with the activation of a bunch of, what look to be new small cell sites along Oxford Street, as well as other CBD locations around Sydney including more sites in the royal botanical gardens. 19 sites in all, appear to be these small cell sites having only 4G2600 with a few also having 3G2100 as well. Optus activated 39 sites in total, with 29 in NSW and 19 as part of their "4.5G" expansion. Optus also upgraded a further 35 sites right around the nation with 4G700 continuing to be the major focus.

Telstra activated an impressive 19 sites this fortnight with 7 in NSW alone, 5 of which were in conjunction with Optus and Vodafone and at Sydney Railway stations. Rural QLD also got some new sites with 3 rural small cell sites also being activated. Telstra Upgraded 45 further sites mostly along the east coast, with 4G700 being the main focus but also a spattering of other bands. Telstra also proposed 133 site upgrades with 62 in QLD alone and what looks to be a future “4.5G” rollout around Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Vodafone activated 9 new sites with most being part of the NSW rail project mentioned above. Vodafone also upgraded a further 33 sites with 16 alone in VIC, 4G1200 was the major focus but also a few sites continue to be upgraded with 4G850 as well.

NBN activated 19 new sites with 9 sites also receiving upgrades. This writer also noted that the NBN tower I will be connecting to late 2020 is now standing. There are no antennas or equipment yet and given NBN's fixed wireless network is ahead of schedule I would hope I get connected earlier than late 2020.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has decreased by 10 sites as Telstra continues to plod along. Optus is still ahead of Telstra however in 4G700 by 1083 sites.

Telstra and Keay dispute launch date for Sisters Beach mobile tower

04 Jun 2017

Telstra denies it said when a mobile phone tower in Sisters Beach would be switched on, but emails to a Labor MP’s office suggest otherwise.

Federal Braddon MP Justine Keay said she twice received advice from Telstra that the Sisters Beach tower would be launched May 19.

She said Sisters Beach residents “have been waiting too long for their mobile phone reception to get fixed”.

The tower will provide 3G and 4G mobile coverage to a large part of the region once completed.

It is part of the national rollout of the Mobile Black Spot Program.

Telstra said at no stage did it communicate a switch-on date for the Sisters Beach tower that Ms Keay has been talking about.

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Vodafone launches legal action over mobile roaming

04 Jun 2017

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is yet to finalise its decision on whether to regulate domestic mobile roaming, but Vodafone Hutchison Australia has already launched legal action over the issue.

Last month the ACCC issued a draft decision that it would not declare a wholesale mobile roaming service. If a service was to be declared, the ACCC could force telcos such as Telstra to allow rivals, such as Vodafone, to use their mobile network infrastructure.

Vodafone has stridently argued for mobile roaming, which would enable it to offer services in parts of regional Australia that its own network does not cover.

“Australian mobile phone users will continue to pay too much and suffer poor coverage in regional areas” as a result of the ACCC’s draft decision, the telco said in a statement issued today.

Vodafone is seeking judicial review of the ACCC’s inquiry process. The telco yesterday lodged its application with the Federal Court.

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NBN fixed wireless rollout reaches 500,000 premises

01 Jun 2017

More than half a million households are able to order fixed wireless services on the National Broadband Network, NBN said today.

The figure means that the planned rollout of fixed wireless is more than 80 per cent complete. NBN also revealed that so far only 175,000 eligible premises currently have active services, however.

Recent data released by NBN indicated that by the end of March across the network in total 4.6 million premises were able to order a service, although less than half those households — just over 2 million — had active connections.

NBN currently offers wholesale speeds of up to 50 megabits per second over fixed wireless, with the company planning to launch 100Mbps services in 2018.

Last month the company demonstrated downstream bandwidth of 1.1 gigabits per second and 165Mbps upstream using its wireless infrastructure. However, the launch of a commercial service with those speeds is unlikely for now due to spectrum constraints.

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Safety issues flagged in business's black spot battle

01 Jun 2017

PROBLEMS with phone reception and internet is costing Lake Awoonga Boating and Leisure Hire business, and the owner has had enough.

Nigel 'Nudge' Trezise said for the three years they had almost been there they had been battling with Telstra.

"We've reported it a couple of times as a blackspot, we've been to the complaints department, we've been everywhere with it and nothing seems to be done about it," he said.

Mr Trezise said he could not receive NBN or broadband at the dam which was disappointing too.

"We do a lot on social media to promote business and if you can't upload a photo or go onto your Facebook page, it's very annoying," he said.

"We're missing phone calls all the time ... and then you have to stand in the right area just to call them back."

Besides the inconvenience of the situation, Mr Trezise said they had to use their mobile phones for internet, which cost a fortune.

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