Has TPG started building its own 4G network?

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Has TPG started building its own 4G network?

Digital dividend spectrum could be put into action.

TPG Telecom appears poised to step up work on its own 4G network, revealing plans over the weekend to design and implement a “LTE network rollout”.

The move is foreshadowed in an otherwise innocuous recruitment advertisement for a “senior network engineer”, posted Saturday August 13.

The top four key duties and responsibilities are to “design and implement LTE”, “LTE network rollout and upgrade”, to “support and troubleshoot LTE”, and to “define [an] operating procedure for LTE networks”.

A TPG spokesperson downplayed the advertisement when contacted by iTnews.

“We’re in an R&D phase,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve always had people in the background from an R&D perspective. I wouldn’t look too much into a job posting.”

TPG was a surprise bidder in the digital dividend spectrum auctions of 2013, snapping up 2600 MHz assets. It also has some 1800 MHz spectrum, which could similarly be used for 4G services.

To date, TPG has confined its mobile play to that of an mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) – first on the Optus network, before switching allegiances to Vodafone last year as part of a $1 billion deal struck between the two telcos.

Though its spectrum purchases made TPG a candidate to switch from a pure MVNO to a mobile network operator, its plans have been largely under wraps for the past three years.

Ovum senior analyst Nicole McCormick told iTnews back in 2013 that such a transition "would be ambitious" but not unrealistic for TPG to achieve.

TPG has been steadily building its mobile customer base both organically and through acquisition. It had 473,000 mobile customers as at January this year, consisting of 297,000 on TPG’s MVNO plans and 176,000 from its buyout of iiNet.

It also has extensive backhaul and dark fibre assets.

TPG's spokesperson would not be drawn on the timing of an LTE network rollout. Further clues may be offered when the company unveils its full year results on September 20.

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