Optus will spend $1bn to improve its regional mobile network

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Optus will spend $1bn to improve its regional mobile network

Amidst regional roaming legal battle.

Optus has pledged to spend $1 billion over the next year to improve its regional mobile network in what it claims is the biggest investment into regional coverage in the company's history.

It comes amidst a legal battle over the ACCC's draft decision not to force regional mobile network operators to open up their networks for rivals to roam onto.

Optus today said the $1 billion would be spent over the year to June 2018.

The funding will see 500 new mobile sites built across regional and remote locations, 114 of which fall under the government's mobile blackspots program.

It will also see more than 1800 sites upgraded from 3G to 4G, around 200 sites given additional 4G capacity to cater to peak usage periods, and additional small cell technology rolled out. The money will also help cover the cost of spectrum licences.

The majority of sites targeted under the investment program are located in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.

“This represents one of the single largest investments in regional mobile infrastructure in Australia’s history," Optus CEO Allen Lew said in a statement.

“I challenge regional Australians to put Optus’ network to the test for themselves. Try our network and if you’re not satisfied, simply contact us within 30 days to cancel the service, return the handset in good working order, and there won’t be any plan cancellation fees."

Optus' announcement follows a lawsuit initiated by rival Vodafone against the ACCC's draft decision not to declare a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service.

The ACCC has said there is not enough evidence to show that forcing telcos to allow rivals to roam onto their regional mobile networks would improve competition for regional users, but Vodafone claims the watchdog used a "flawed" process to arrive at its decision.

Telstra has taken the ACCC's side in the lawsuit, while Optus has joined as an intervener - meaning it can submit evidence and cross-examine without aligning to any one side.

Optus' main rival and market leader Telstra also last year pledged to spend almost $1 billion on mobile coverage in remote and rural areas over the next five years.

It claims allowing others to roam onto its regional mobile network would negate this investment.

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