Optus to roll out 3G to 96 percent of Australia

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Optus to roll out 3G to 96 percent of Australia

Optus is to drop up to $800 million on a new national 3G service in a move which it claims will usher in a new era of competition in 3G services.

Optus is to drop up to $800 million on a new national 3G service in a move which it claims will usher in a new era of competition in 3G services.

The network build-out, with services scheduled to commence by early 2008, is expected to reach 96 percent of the population, replicating the coverage of Optus' existing national 2G mobile network.

Optus Chief Executive Paul O'Sullivan said the announcement would bring competitive third generation mobile communications technology to the vast majority of Australians.

"Today, competition in rural and regional Australia is weak, with the incumbent having substantial excess market share,” he said in a statement.

“With the investment… we are well positioned to grow share in non-metropolitan Australia. History shows that when we focus on a new market, with new offers and real alternatives for customers, we can achieve our natural market share.”

ICT Minister Helen Coonan said the announcement was good news for Australian consumers – particularly those in rural, regional and remote areas.

“Next generation networks enable consumers to access advanced voice and data services that can support innovative applications such as wireless broadband and video phone services,” she said in a statement.

“Increasingly savvy consumers are demanding the always-on, anywhere freedom that next generation networks offer.”

The new network will be built and owned by Optus, and will continue to co-own its existing 2100MHz 3G network in metropolitan Australia, in a joint venture with Vodafone, the company said.

While the new network will operate in the 2100MHz frequency range, Optus planned to explore usage of the 900MHz frequency range to address smaller regional centres and remote locations.

The telco also expects to sell capacity on the network to mobile resellers.

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