Vodafone Australia has announced that it will be expanding its 4G mobile network across Tasmania through the construction of six new mobile towers in the city of Launceston, as well as upgrading four existing towers.
The telecommunications provider switched on two new mobile towers in Ravenswood and Norwood at the end of last year, and intends to switch on towers in Prospect Hill and Newham by June; Launceston North by August; and Youngtown by December.
According to Vodafone, once these six towers are switched on, they will provide 428 square kilometres of additional mobile coverage throughout Australia's southernmost state.
"Vodafone is investing heavily and working hard to improve and expand its services in and around Launceston, as it is around the whole country," said Vodafone CTO Kevin Millroy.
Vodafone will also be switching on a new mobile tower in Buckland to provide an additional 136 square kilometres of mobile coverage and will be building 19 sites in total across Tasmania as part of its obligations under the federal government's mobile blackspots program.
In total, Vodafone will build out just four mobile base stations under round two of the mobile blackspots program, after being responsible for 70 under round one, and is also investing AU$9 million of its own funding in constructing 32 new mobile base stations across the country.
By comparison, Optus will be building 114 new mobile sites under round two, while Telstra is responsible for 148, down from the 429 it was allocated under round one.
Vodafone also concluded a "major network upgrade" on its 4G network in Canberra in October, using the 1800MHz spectrum it secured during the auction held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) last year.
Vodafone spent AU$68 million to secure 11x 1800MHz spectrum in February 2016: Four lots in the Australian Capital Territory, for AU$37 million; two lots in North Queensland, for AU$7.75 million; one lot in South Queensland, for AU$7.91 million; two lots in Tasmania, for AU$12.87 million; and two lots in Regional Western Australia, for AU$2.5 million.
Using the spectrum, Vodafone upgraded 84 network sites to 1800MHz 4G to increase capacity by fourfold, and plans to upgrade another 19 sites this year.
As the telecommunications carrier with the least network coverage across rural and remote Australia, Vodafone has also been a major proponent of infrastructure sharing in order to extend its own mobile network at minimal cost, also pushing reform to the universal service obligation (USO), and butting heads with Telstra and Optus on the wholesale mobile domestic roaming issue -- whereby Vodafone would be permitted to piggyback off Telstra's mobile infrastructure.
The Productivity Commission's draft report into the USO, released in December, revealed that although Vodafone claims to have 96 percent of the Australian population covered by its network, or 23 million people, only 7.5 percent of the continent's landmass is covered.
By contrast, Optus claims 98.5 percent population coverage and covers 15.6 percent of the nation, while Telstra's 99.3 percent of the population amounts to covering more than 31 percent of the landmass with its mobile network.