Optus to spend $1 billion upgrading its regional network

Alex Kidman 21 July 2017 NEWS

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How much more mobile network do you get for a billion dollars, anyway?

Optus has announced that it plans to spend $1 billion on upgrades to its regional mobile network by the end of the 2017-2018 financial year. That's no small chunk of change to spend on upgrades, especially with the prospect of the 5G network looming on the relatively immediate horizon. So what does Optus plan to do with all that money?

According to a release from the telco, it will spend the funds building 500 new mobile sites across regional and rural Australia, including 114 sites on the Federal Government's Blackspot program. To compliment this new coverage, it will also upgrade more than 1,800 existing sites from 3G coverage to 4G, as well as add additional capacity to over 200 existing 4G sites to cope with additional 4G demand.

Optus will also continue to roll out satellite small cell technology to provide coverage to more remote areas of Australia. Finally, the funds will be used to meet existing licence agreement costs.

Optus faces a considerably more competitive market across Australia as 2018 approaches, with the prospect of a fourth competitor network via TPG on the horizon. However, TPG's plans only call for an 80% population coverage figure, so more regional and rural customers probably won't be on its radar.

Still, regional and rural Australia is a competitive space, with Vodafone recently reigniting its moves towards getting the ACMA to declare regional roaming. Optus's plans will no doubt have been in the works for some time now, and this would neatly explain why it didn't back Vodafone's efforts in this regard.

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