Vodafone and NBN Co explore tower sharing to improve coverage

Vodafone and NBN Co explore tower sharing to improve coverage

Summary: NBN Co has entered into agreements with Telstra and Optus for the three companies to share mobile tower infrastructure, but Vodafone is still in discussions with the government-owned company.

TOPICS: Telcos, NBN, Australia

NBN Co, Optus, and Telstra have entered into agreements to share tower infrastructure to improve mobile coverage for all companies, but Vodafone is still weighing up its options.

For 4 of the last 7 percent of the Australian population not covered in the National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre roll-out, NBN Co is constructing a fixed-wireless long-term evolution network. The company estimates that it will need to build or co-locate in 2,300 towers to cover the 500,000 premises for the fixed-wireless network.

A number of new towers have been approved for construction for the network, although the company has run into resistance from local residents in a number of areas.

NBN Co's preference is to find an existing tower to co-locate in rather than building a new tower, and the company said in answer to a recent question on notice from a budget estimates hearing last year that it had already entered into a tower-sharing agreement with Telstra and Optus that provides reciprocal access to NBN Co built-and-owned towers.

"Using existing wireless sites where they are appropriately located, with the terms and conditions negotiated by NBN Co, reduces peak capital demand and provides a stock of sites for NBN Co to deploy on a more timely basis," NBN Co said.

Under the Telecommunications Act, a carrier must, on the request of another carrier, give access to its tower to share the infrastructure, and NBN Co said that its towers are open to every carrier to request access.

"All mobile carriers are entitled to request access to an NBN Wireless site. NBN Co envisages that more than one mobile carrier may co-locate on a NBN Wireless site in the future."

NBN Co said that in the long run, this could improve the mobile coverage for other mobile companies too.

"[Shared towers] also result in positive externalities for regional and rural Australian through opportunities for improved mobile coverage."

Vodafone told ZDNet that it was interested in a formal agreement with NBN Co to share towers, but it hadn't signed on just yet.

"We have had discussions with NBN where we agreed that we will explore sharing options, but we haven't at this time formalised an agreement."

NBN Co said that it charges for access based on the lost capacity on the tower that NBN Co would have to replace if it required more equipment on the tower.

Last year, Optus and Vodafone entered into an agreement that sees Vodafone get access to an additional 1,800 base stations, while Optus gets access to an additional 1,000.

Topics: Telcos, NBN, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Makes sense. We certainly don't want more towers than we actually need littering the landscape and the best part is less nasty radiations frying ur brain. Think of all the money the tin-foil hat wearing anti-NBN crusaders will save from not having to buy those 150m rolls too. This is full of win.
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • LTE-Towers and other options

      IF these private "mobile" services are offered as part of a bundled package - otherwise your simply inviting the Private Telco's to use taxpayer funds to usurp the NBN itself! Further beyond the existing mobile footprint which covers less than 20+ percent of the Australian landmass the issue of provisioning mobile services lies within the technology of "Mobile Satellite" and it is that environment I would suggest that the NBN explore as being part of their charter to deliver.
  • Wireless important for NBNCo customers

    In late June last year, residents moving into their new, two-storey complex of 12 two-bedroom units were informed that their homes were NBN Ready and only a number of weeks away from connection. Many of them first home owners, they had no reason to expect the frustration, legal loopholes and vague updates from NBNCo that were to come.

    Being what is termed a “Greenfields” area, The Fair boasts only the latest in NBN-ready cabling and none of those copper wires that older houses get their phone and internet from. This means that residents cannot access a traditional landline phone or any form of cabled internet connection. NBNCo also does not have the same obligations as Telstra under the Universal Service Obligation, so until a service can be provided, residents of a suburb barely 10km from the centre of the nation’s capital must make do with mobile phones and 3G services, or satellite services usually reserved for those in remote rural locations.

    As NBNCo flies past 1600 employees, enjoying unprecedented training opportunities according to the AFR ( $4112 and $8052 per staff vs Telstra $1300 ), one day we might get Dec QTR connection figures.

    Talk about building towers, indeed any infrastructure, easier than the doing.
    Richard Flude
    • And

      I note Telstra has finally cut over all the properties into their Bris South exchange, now how long did that take?
      But what is even better is what products and services are available at what price?
      What Media products are available?

      Covered well at

      Plus what is available on the Telstra velocity sites
      Abel Adamski
    • Hey Fluddy, still awaiting that page number. If you can manage it sometime this week that would be great. Thanks.
      Hubert Cumberdale
      • hi richard,

        it would be a good outcome if you provided this mystery page number or clarified the comment. I personally cannot recall the subject. The constant posts demanding a page number has become a trite boring.

        Btw happy Australia day to all Australians.
        Blank Look
        • visionary I cant tell if you are serious or not since you made a comment in the "NBN Co exceeds 2012 target" article yourself. Maybe you stopped reading it after you commented or forgot how to use a mouse wheel?
          Hubert Cumberdale