For the moment. Optus last week announced that it plans to take on Telstra in the coverage stakes, targeting 98% of the Australian population. They're spending a whopping $315 million between now and December 2009 to build at least another 750 base stations across the country. Their target is to extend their coverage area by 400,000 square kilometres.
On top of the coverage increase, they're also in the process of boosting their 3G networks to 7.2Mbps HSPA on the 900MHz spectrum, with plans to expand that to 42Mbps by mid 2010. Which should be the perfect speed and coverage for a 3G iPhone, don't you think?
The full press release is below:
Optus sets new milestone with the expansion of mobile network coverage to 98 per cent07 May 2008
Optus announced today that it would embark on an investment program to expand its nationwide mobile network beyond 96 per cent population coverage to reach 98 per cent. The program will cost $315 million and is targeted for completion by December 2009.
"Today marks the dawn of a new era for mobile competition in Australia. The extended Optus network will bring choice and value to people who have been limited to the incumbent's network for too long," Mr Paul O'Sullivan, Optus Chief Executive said.
"With this significant expansion we will be the only mobile carrier capable of challenging the incumbent's network reach. We will deliver superior coverage and wireless services across the country and drive increased market share for Optus.
"Optus invests over $1 billion annually in improving Australia's telecoms networks, products and services. Only last year we announced a $500 million investment to upgrade our mobile network to bring 3G and high speed wireless broadband to reach 96 per cent of the population. Now we will bring wireless, voice and broadband services to a further two per cent of the population along with greater choice, better service and sensational value.
"Optus' 3G mobile network is currently being upgraded to deliver broadband speeds of up to 7.2 Megabits per second (Mbps). We have plans in place to increase to speeds of up to 28 Mbps from late 2009. In addition, Optus will also work with its strategic partners to make the network capable of up to 42 Mbps by mid 2010," Mr O'Sullivan said.
At least 750 new base stations will be added, extending Optus' mobile network coverage by 400,000 square kilometres to a total network coverage of more than one million square kilometres.
This significant expansion of the Optus network will be achieved using 900 Megahertz (MHz) spectrum, utilising High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) wireless broadband technology. The network will extend the footprint to reach areas including Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia and Tumby in South Australia, through to Weipa in Far North Queensland.
"The Australian landscape is perfectly suited to using the 900MHz spectrum band to deliver high speed mobile broadband. Utilising this frequency, radio signals have a greater reach - enabling better quality and wider coverage across sparsely populated rural and remote areas as well as an enhanced depth of coverage. This also translates into cost efficiencies, with fewer base stations required to cover the land mass between locations," Mr O'Sullivan said.
As at 31 December 2007, Optus have over 7 million mobile subscribers.