TPG's David Teoh urges 5G catch-up as Vodafone merger nears

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TPG's David Teoh urges 5G catch-up as Vodafone merger nears

Progress impacted by merger uncertainty.

A combined Vodafone-TPG entity will need to “strengthen and speed up” its 5G rollout to counter the 18-month headstart of competitors Telstra and Optus, TPG Telecom’s executive chairman David Teoh says.

Speaking on an analyst call coinciding with the company’s half-year results, Teoh indicated relief at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) decision not to appeal a Federal Court ruling allowing the $15 billion Vodafone-TPG merger to proceed.

“I think we’re glad that there’s no appeal from the ACCC because with the delay in the last 18 months that gives Telstra and Optus … a good run on implementing their 5G networks,” Teoh said.

“I believe that the ‘MergeCo’ has to strengthen and speed up the 5G rollout to compete in the marketplace because there is enormous opportunity there. 

“We need a good network and good product for the benefit of the consumer. We see tremendous opportunities moving forward.”

Teoh said that TPG’s dark fibre infrastructure, mobile spectrum holdings and 900 small cells deployed in the company’s now-defunct project to build its own mobile network would prove valuable to MergeCo and help it “compete strongly with Telstra and Optus.”

He believed MergeCo would be strong in the cellular market as well as in the pursuit of fixed wireless networks, particularly targeting urban corridors.

Teoh said it was “too premature to say at this stage” exactly where MergeCo would focus on a fixed wireless rollout.

“I think we have to look at the combined infrastructure and also where the customers are,” he said, 

However, Teoh went on to say there are “a lot of customers from the [Sydney] CBD to Parramatta, and when you look at Melbourne it’s like 15km radius from the CBD, so they are key areas where there are a lot of opportunities we can focus on.”

After the Federal Court ruled last month that the $15 billion Vodafone-TPG merger could proceed, Vodafone revealed plans to deploy 5G to an initial 650 sites, signalling the catch-up had begun.

Vodafone Australia CEO Iñaki Berroeta said today that “thousands more [5G sites are] on our roadmap over coming years.”

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