Optus is set to start competing with Telstra's Next G mobile networks in rural and regional Australia after being issued 3G spectrum licences for 972 sites by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The allocated spectrum, in the 2100MHz range, grants Optus the ability to extend 3G mobile coverage to rural and regional areas such as Bendigo, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth, Albury, Dubbo, Cairns and Port Macquarie. See the full list here (PDF).
"I am delighted by the high level of demand from industry for additional spectrum in the 2GHz band in regional and remote Australia," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement. "It is encouraging to see industry participants take advantage of the release of this spectrum by the ACMA to improve the mobile telecommunications services available to regional Australia."
"This is a fantastic result which enables Optus to continue to support the growing demand from our retail and business customers in regional Australia for mobile broadband and mobile data,"Optus Products and Delivery managing director Andrew Buay said.
ACMA said it would wait until an assessment of Telstra's application for multiple sites had been completed before announcing the second round of licensing.
In May, Optus' government and corporate affairs director Maha Krishnapillai accused ACMA of taking far too long to decide on the allocation of spectrum.