Optus 3G coverage tops 85 per cent

Optus today announced that it has reached 85 per cent of the population with its 3G network coverage.

Optus today announced that it has reached 85 per cent of the population with its 3G network coverage.

Maha Krishnapillai
(Credit: Slattery IT)

"We are very pleased to announce we hit 85 per cent as of today in terms of 3G availability across the country," Maha Krishnapillai, director of government and corporate affairs, said while speaking at the 2008 Australian Telecommunications Summit today.

In January last year the company said it was expanding its network to 96 per cent of the population using a combination of 900MHz and 2,100MHz frequencies, which the company estimated to cost $800 million if the network were entirely rolled out at 2,100MHz and $500 million if 900MHz was feasible.

In December it confirmed it would use both frequencies, setting the cost at $500 million and appointing vendors as Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks for the roll-out.

The plan was to bring the coverage, which stood at 60 per cent in December 2007, to 80 per cent by June 2008 and complete the extension by December 2008.

In May this year, the company decided to go even further, investing an additional $315 million to allow the network to reach 98 per cent of the population when completed, instead of the planned 96, bringing the network coverage to over one million square kilometres. The deadline for completion was moved to December 2009.

"For the first time we believe that we will be going head to head with Telstra," Krishnapillai said of the coverage increase.

However, the number two telco will have one advantage over its key rival, according to Krishnapillai, who said that population density in certain areas has changed since Telstra laid its network. "We have the luxury of putting our network in those places where the population centres are in 2008," he said.

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