There is a common belief that the bush lost a lot when the government cancelled OPEL's network, but the company's planned coverage wasn't going to be as broad Vodafone's future 3G network, Phil Burgess, Telstra's group MD of public policy and communications, said.
To NSW farmers asking what they are going to do now the OPEL project has been shut down, Burgess said: "You can take Vodafone," adding the operator does everything OPEL was going to do "and then some".
Late last year, Vodafone announced plans to increase its 3G coverage to 95 percent of Australians by the end of this year — up from the 55 percent of the population it currently covers.
"Vodafone's a serious player," Burgess said.
Burgess noted Telstra Next G covers everything that Vodafone covers as well as everything that OPEL was going to cover.
OPEL's lack of action doomed its project according to Burgess. "They had a promise of AU$1 billion for eight months, and in eight months they couldn't produce a plan," he said.
Rural Australia is better off with Telstra and Vodafone, he said. "OPEL was a joke, and it was a bad joke."