3 Expanding Its Network To Cover 96 Percent Of The Population

Mobile phone tower.jpgAre you a Three customer? Do you feel inadequate when you travel outside the major metropolitan areas as your phone drops back to Telstra's 2G network while all your friends boast super-fast 3G speeds on their "other network" phones?

Well, feel inadequate no longer, with Three today announcing that they're expanding their 3G network to cover 96% of the Australian population by next year.

The expansion looks like it will be a combination of using 3's own network, plus piggybacking on Telstra's NextG network as well, although just how much of the latter will be happening is unclear. What is clear is that 3 are already working on the expansion, with 50 new sites, including Newcastle and the Central Coast of NSW, scheduled to go live by the end of the year.

At the moment, Three reaches a paltry 56% of the population with 3G. For me, I just hope they patch up the black spot near Sydney airport for when I'm on the train, so I can spend more time on Giz. Cos I love you guys.

UPDATE: I've heard back from 3 on a couple of questions I asked them - turns out that the extra infrastructure they're building will take them to over 60%. To get up to 96%, they're jumping in bed with Telstra's NextG (the 2100MHz network NextG also uses is a 50/50 joint venture with 3).

On top of that, once the ink has dried on their deal with Telstra, it should bring down roaming costs. To what, we'll have to wait and see, but if it's cheaper than the current roaming charges, then it's good news.

Press release is below:

3 to Bring 3G Coverage to 96% of Population Network expansion and 3G roaming initiatives Sydney, 19 August 2008: Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Limited (ASX:HTA) today announced that during the first half of 2009 3 will provide its customers with access to 3G services in areas covering 96% of the population. Network expansion plans include 3 building new coverage where there is currently high roaming and 3G roaming on parts of Telstra's 850MHz network. These initiatives will increase 3's 3G network presence from covering 56% of the population today, to covering 96% of the population and are in addition to 3's existing infill site program. The new site build is commencing this year in areas of current high roaming for 3's customers including Newcastle and the Central Coast in NSW and the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Around 50 sites will be complete by the end of the year. Roaming arrangements for 3G roaming on parts of Telstra's 850MHz network will be in place during the second quarter of next year. "Plans to extend 3's 3G network mean that our customers will be able to access their 3G services in far more places, and with the appetite for services like the internet on the mobile growing rapidly, it makes good sense," said Nigel Dews, Chief Executive Officer, Hutchison Telecoms. 3's roaming on parts of Telstra's 850MHz network is in addition to 3's existing roaming on Telstra's 2G network which already covers 96% of the population for talk, SMS, MMS, IM and email. "In addition to providing more access to our 3G services, these initiatives will reduce our roaming costs. Both new sites being added and lower wholesale roaming costs will have a significant impact," said Mr Dews. 3's 3G network operates at 2100MHz, was Australia's first 3G network, and is shared with Telstra following a joint venture agreement in 2004.

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