The nation’s number two telco Optus yesterday revealed it would invest $25 million in its 3G mobile network in Tasmania over the next two years, tripling the number of base stations in the state to over 100 and increasing the capacity of existing sites.
The network rollout will see over 45 towns for the first time gain access to a mobile provider other than Telstra, the telco said in a statement yesterday, with the rollout to mean that upwards of 96 percent of the Tasmanian population will be able to gain access to Optus’ Open Network. More than 80 new sites will be added. “With this significant expansion, we will be the only mobile carrier capable of challenging the incumbent’s network reach in Tasmania,” said Optus Networks managing director Gunther Ottendorfer.
It appears also that the Tasmanian Government has handed Optus a chunk of its mobile telecommunications spend. The Government kicked off an overhaul of its wide-ranging needs for telecommunications services in early November last year, although it has not yet announced winners from the services.
“The extent of the investment and the ability to meet customer expectations has provided the Tasmanian Government with the confidence in choosing Optus for mobile and mobile data services,” added Ottendorfer. The state has previously primarily used Telstra for most of its services.
It appears that much of the network rollout will take place utilising the 900MHz spectrum which Optus is using in regional areas, in preference to the 2100MHz spectrum used in metropolitan areas. The telco specifically highlighted upgrades to take place at its existing mobile sites in Devonport, Hobart and Launceston as part of the announcement.
In Optus statement – and at an associated launch event at an Optus store in Elizabeth St Mall in Hobart – Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings was positive about the rollout.
“Telecommunications has always been vital to keeping regional Tasmania connected, and that has never been truer than in the age of mobile phones, tablet computers and email,” Giddings said. “This announcement will increase the choice for Tasmanians who need to stay connected for work, education, or simply to stay in touch with their family.”
The news comes just weeks after Telstra itself revealed an ongoing investment in Tasmania to improve the state’s access to fixed and mobile broadband. The telco recently revealed the towns of Bridport and Dilston north of Launceston would receive new ADSL infrastructure.
In addition, Telstra Country Wide general manager for Northern Tasmania Michael Patterson said Telstra was also expanding its Next G mobile network across Tasmania – seeing to maintain “coverage supremacy” over competitors Vodafone and Optus. “We have a rollout schedule of new towers across the state of Tasmania, to ensure we maintain that coverage gap,” he said, noting the company was investing “something like $3 million a week” in infrastructure in Tasmania – “significant capex and opex budgets” to maintain the company’s significant footprint in the state.
The National Broadband Network Company, too, is currently focusing on rolling out fixed fibre-optic infrastructure in the state, with Tasmania being a key focus for early rollout stage plans.
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