TPG to launch six-month free mobile plans

TPG's first mobile customers will be offered six months of free unlimited data, after which it will cost AU$9.99 per month, with the network to be available across Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide as of Q3-Q4.

TPG has announced that it will be launching six-month mobile plans at zero cost for its first customers from Q3 or Q4 this year, with the provider also offering customers access to unlimited data.

The first 1GB of data per day will be provided at 4G speeds, after which it will be capped at 1Mbps speeds for the rest of the day.

After the initial half-year period, customers who choose to stay with TPG's mobile network will then be charged AU$9.99 per month.

"The TPG team has been working hard constructing our own network, and I feel proud and excited to be introducing our very first on-net mobile product offering. We are inviting users to register to experience our coverage and network performance as well as to take advantage of unlimited mobile data for free," TPG executive chair David Teoh said.

"This promotion is the first of its kind in Australia, and signals a new era of competition in the mobile market and will undoubtedly bring great benefit to Australian consumers."

COO Craig Levy said TPG plans to sign up all customers via its website, where it will also provide customer support. The provider last month also rid itself of SIM and MMS fees while still operating as an MVNO on the Vodafone Australia mobile network.

TPG's trial mobile network coverage will be available in the following areas of Sydney: Sydney CBD, Darlinghurst, Haymarket, Surry Hills, Ultimo, Pyrmont, Chippendale, Redfern, Woolloomooloo, Paddington, Moore Park, Woollahra, Bondi Junction, Waterloo, Alexandria, Beaconsfield, Kensington, Randwick, Kingsford, Mascot, Newtown, Camperdown, Petersham, Leichhardt, Dulwich Hill, Summer Hill, Ashfield, Burwood, Strathfield, Homebush, Lidcombe, Chatswood, and Hurstville.

In Melbourne, it will be available in Melbourne CBD, Southbank, South Melbourne, Docklands, Port Melbourne, Footscray, South Yarra, St Kilda, Hawthorn, Toorak, Kooyong, Camberwell, Burwood, Kew, Malvern, Glen Iris, Caulfield, Elwood, North Melbourne, Carlton, Parkville, Fitzroy, Collingwood, East Melbourne, Richmond, Brunswick, Brunswick West, Moonee Ponds, Maribyrnong, Coburg, Pascoe Vale, and Darebin.

In Brisbane, the network will provide coverage to the CBD, Kangaroo Point, Spring Hill, Fortitude Valley, Newstead, New Farm, East Brisbane, South Brisbane, West End, Highgate Hill, Woolloongabba, Paddington, Auchenflower, Toowong, and Taringa.

It will also be available across the CBD, Civic, Braddon, and Kingston in Canberra; and the CBD and North Adelaide in Adelaide.

"The network rollout is ongoing and our mobile network coverage will increase significantly over time as we make the best use of our extensive fibre optic network assets," Levy added.

On signing up its first mobile users, TPG will give priority to existing fixed broadband customers across its TPG, iiNet, and Internode brands.

Australian telecommunications entrepreneur Bevan Slattery had last month predicted that TPG will become the second-largest carrier in Australia within five years, saying it will make a play for the bottom 20 percent of the market by offering unlimited downloads at a low cost.

"I think in five years, TPG will be the number two telco in Australia," Slattery said. "I think they're going to launch a Jio-style service ... it'll be unlimited internet for like AU$30."

Slattery added that there will be a "massive cannibalisation" in the mobile telco market, with TPG perhaps on its way to becoming number one within 10 years, with technology analyst firm Telsyte previously saying TPG could sign up two in five Australians to its mobile network.

"I think the rollout's going to cost [AU$500 million to] AU$700 million, something like that. But they've already got the fibre in place, they've already got submarine cable capacity in place ... I think the capex requirement of that is probably overblown, and the only thing they need to really do is start strapping gear onto the end of the fibre," Slattery added.

"The amount of spectrum they've got is somewhat limiting -- in saying that, the technologies in 5G are different to 4G LTE ... you can probably get four times to 10 times the amount of consumption in the same spectrum on 5G," he added.

TPG had in March provided an update of its mobile network build-out, saying it has installed sites in Sydney and Melbourne.

"The mobile network builds in Australia and Singapore continue to progress well. Capital expenditure outlook on both projects remains in line with initial forecasts. Deployment in Australia is well under way. Sites already installed in Sydney and Melbourne," TPG said during its first-half FY18 financial results.

"Refined small cell deployment model to accelerate delivery of high volume of small cell sites in coming months. Small cell site access agreements now substantially complete. High density of small cell sites and deployment of Cloud RAN will provide a platform for 5G services."

TPG's AU$1.9 billion Australian mobile network is expected to be complete across Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra by mid-2018, with TPG in September 2017 announcing signing contracts with technology partners on mobile sites, small cells, and macro cells.

The telco also remains on track to achieve nationwide mobile outdoor service coverage in Singapore by the end of this year, having last year signed vendors to assist in building out the network.

During the six months to December 31, TPG spent AU$791.8 million on capital expenditure, including AU$4.1 million on its Australian mobile network, AU$29.7 million on its Singapore mobile network, and AU$594.8 million on 700MHz spectrum.

TPG's mobile customers -- with the telco now wholesaling Vodafone's 4G network -- stood at 143,000 MVNO subs on iiNet and 278,000 on TPG as of December 31.

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