Optus, Vodafone to build 500 joint sites

 

No jab at Telstra.

Mobile carriers Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia have joined forces to fill mobile coverage blackspots in metropolitan areas and strengthen their respective networks.

The joint venture will see the carriers share some of their existing mobile towers while also bearing the cost of building 500 new sites over four years in capital cities, Geelong in Victoria and the central coast in New South Wales.

The agreement would ultimately provide Optus with an additional 1000 sites, for a total of approximately 5000 free-standing and standalone mobile sites. Vodafone, on the other hand, would get access to around 900 sites from the venture.

It comes as the extension of a 2004 agreement that initially saw the carriers share 3G infrastructure.

Bill Morrow, the newly appointed chief executive of VHA, told iTnews a joint governance board would be appointed to determine the location of the new sites where it was deemed suitable for both carriers.

But he denied the move was aimed at competing with Telstra's existing mobile reach.

"I wouldn't look at it as a 'beat [Telstra]' and I'm telling my executives that. Telstra is not our focus, it's the customer," he said.

However, it is believed the joint venture was aimed at also narrowing the gap in coverage between Optus and Telstra mobile networks.

"We see the rise of smartphones, many more people wanting data and data indoors is obviously a key performance threshold for us, looking for any coverage holes we have in the network is where we'll start focusing those 500 sites," Optus mobile network director Andrew Smith said.

Though the venture is focused on metro areas for the time being, Morrow said the venture could provide for greater regional access in future.

"In the five major cities of the country, it's important everyone have their own network and where it makes sense we'll do some tower sharing to address those local communities," he said.

"Outside of that, there's a slightly different environment where we see, very much the same way with Optus, where we have to minimise the cost in those areas. While Telstra has spent a lot of money in the past out there, to do that three times affects the economic profit pool and that's why you have to come up with a different solution."

Analysts from Ovum and Telsyte said the primary motivator for the agreement came in saving the capital cost of building mobile sites while accelerating network rollouts for both carriers.

"In expanding mobile networks the most costly part is site acquisition and readiness; three to five times the cost of the equipment deployed on the sites," Telsyte telco analyst Chris Coughlan told iTnews.

"This expanded JV essentially halves the cost of this activity. For sites that are existing will shorten the time to establish equipment on sites."

Optus said it would be able to accelerate its planned LTE rollouts by 12 to 18 months, particularly in capital cities.

Vodafone, which has traditionally been hesitant to unveil a solid LTE roadmap, would not share details on potential changes to its plans.

However, Morrow - who led the 4G rollout at US carrier Clearwire - said he had a "strong view" on the plans and would look to more comprehensively fill those out in the near future.

Vodafone builds roaming network

The venture, the cost of which neither company has disclosed, is expected to provide the greatest benefits to Vodafone.

Under the deal, the third largest carrier would also gain roaming access to Optus' network for the first time from April next year, providing 96 percent population coverage.

The company currently claims to cover 94 percent of the population with 3G coverage. Former VHA chief Nigel Dews told investors in February that the company had focused on providing its fastest speeds to 87 percent of the population while offering "usable, good coverage" up to 96 percent coverage.

3 Mobile customers have roamed onto Telstra on a national scale while Vodafone has offered a similar capability for 2G coverage in regional Victoria and Tasmania.

It is the first time Vodafone customers will roam onto another Australian 3G mobile network outside its own infrastructure.

Optus Networks managing director Günther Ottendorfer told iTnews the roaming agreement would not add to any congestion on the network.

"It's about using an infrastructure that is already there more efficiently," he said.

The agreement comes as VHA looks to end its existing relationship with Telstra under the eight-year-old 3GIS contract, which saw 3 Mobile share its 3G network with Telstra while allowing customers to roam onto the largest carrier.

Vodafone has also gained access to another 900 sites from the end of the 3GIS agreement, which is due to end in August this year.

The carrier, which continues to struggle financially after network woes stretching back to late 2010, is more than two-thirds the way through a network upgrade and replacement program that would amount to $1 billion investment since its merger with 3 Mobile.

Morrow said no discussions were held with Telstra to re-negotiate or begin a new venture.

The venture is subject to approval by the competition watchdog. A spokesman for the government organisation could not be contacted at time of writing.

Updated 1.30pm: Clarified Vodafone's roaming capabilities.

Updated 4.30pm: Added further comments from Optus.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Optus, Vodafone to build 500 joint sites
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  20%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1440

Vote