OPTUS has announced its largest ever investment in regional Australia, detailing a $1 billion rollout of infrastructure for mobile coverage.
Optus said it would build 500 new mobile sites in regional and remote Australia.
It will construct 114 sites under the federal government’s Mobile Blackspots Program, upgrade 1,800 sites from 3G to 4G and boost 4G capacity at 200 sites.
Optus said it will also continue to invest in satellite small cell technology in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory
Optus chief executive Allen Lew, Optus said the infrastructure program would increase the range of coverage, improve network performance and aid network resilience “that is critical to supporting public safety and emergency services during natural disasters”.
“This represents one of the single largest investments in regional mobile infrastructure in Australia’s history,” Mr Lew said.
“Optus is building out its mobile network in the places where people live, work and travel to ensure they can lead a vibrant online life. Importantly, we are densifying the mobile network to provide better download speeds for data-hungry applications such as video streaming.”
The Minister for Regional Development and Regional Communications, Fiona Nash said the 500 new towers was a great result for the bush.
“An investment of this size is a huge vote of confidence in our regions.”
Optus’ announcement follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommendation in May against mandated mobile roaming.
Mobile roaming is where telcos pay each other to share network in areas serviced by one provider.
Telstra, which owns the largest rural and regional mobile network, vehemently opposed the introduction of roaming.
In June, the Productivity commission recommended the government end the $300 million a year Universal Service Obligation (USO).
Telstra receives $100m from taxpayers and levies from other telcos to provide universal access to landlines across the country.
A government taskforce is consulting with stakeholders on the future of the USO.
Optus announced its investment, in Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce’s electorate, where 16 sites will be built.