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Optus in the bush

Optus boosts mobile network investment in the bush

Optus has announced that it will spend $1 billion over the next 12 months boosting its mobile network coverage. 

Optus has said it will use the funds to build 500 new mobile sites across regional and remote parts of Australia, including 114 sites under the Federal Government's Mobile Blackspots Program.  

The programme also includes completion of Optus’ 4G upgrade programme and the roll out of further satellite small cell technology to remote areas of Australia.

As analysts have noted, the $1 billion spend is not over and above the amount already flagged by Optus for its 2017-18 capital investment and includes the costs of spectrum licences already acquired. 

The significance of the announcement lies more in the targeting of the investment which represents a challenge to Telstra and an attempt to cement Optus’ position as at least the No.2 mobile carrier before TPG’s proposed network gets off the ground. 

Last but not least, Optus’ investment decision may be seen as an invitation to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to hold its nerve on its draft decision not to “declare” mobile roaming i.e. mandate third party access to mobile carrier networks.

Vodafone, the chief supporter of such access has challenged the ACCC draft decision in the courts as it seeks to extend its own coverage through regulation rather than investment. But the ACCC is still expected to reject declaration when it issues its final decision.

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