Optus leverages NBN for regional mobile network expansion

Optus has collocated on an additional three NBN fixed-wireless sites in coastal NSW to expand its 4G network.

Optus has announced switching on a new 4G mobile site in regional New South Wales by collocating on a National Broadband Network (NBN) fixed-wireless site, for a total of three in the same region planned for the year.

The new mobile site, located at an NBN tower on Thomson Drive in Tathra, is part of the telco's efforts to expand coverage regionally ahead of switching on its 5G network at the beginning of 2019.

Optus has additionally leveraged NBN's sites in Central Tilba and in Candelo Town, the latter of which will be completed later this year.

"It's important Optus customers in regional and rural Australia have access to reliable mobile reception," Optus regional manager for the Riverina Karin Wilcox said on Tuesday.

"The devastating bushfires earlier this year have highlighted the importance of mobile coverage in regional Australia and we are confident that this new Optus site will play a key role in further supporting services in the area."

Its regional rollout will also see the telco build its own mobile sites in Broulee and Moruya Central this year, with the former already having been activated.

NBN's Cell Site Access Service (CSAS) product allows carriers to use its towers and fibre services by installing additional antennas.

NBN had last year revealed that Telstra was leading collocation across its fixed-wireless towers; at the time, Telstra had previously arguing that the low number of collocation sites "raises questions as to whether the pricing is competitive enough and whether the NBN has an incentive to drive the deployment of this [CSAS] service".

Back in early 2015, Optus had additionally announced that it would be co-building mobile towers in regional areas alongside NBN.

Under its own funding, Optus in August announced installing 37 new mobile cell sites across Tasmania under a AU$42.2 million expansion of its mobile network to provide more capacity, quality, and faster data speeds.

Optus CEO Allen Lew said Optus would additionally spend another AU$4.5 million to build eight more sites by March 2019 in Cradoc, Magra, Salamanca Place, Austins Ferry, Campania, Romaine West, Jericho East, and Doctors Rocks.

Optus has also been working with the Victorian government to add more mobile coverage across that state, in July announcing that it will build another 11 towers under the Victorian Mobile Black Spot Project.

Under round three of the federal government's blackspots program, Optus is building out 12 sites after building 114 new mobile sites under round two.

As of June 30, Optus' 4G mobile network provided coverage to 96.9 percent of the population, with 6,895 of its total mobile sites upgraded to 4G and 5,800 of these upgraded to 700MHz spectrum.

Optus had last year announced a that it would invest AU$1.5 billion in improving its mobile telecommunications coverage throughout Australia.

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