Optus And Vodafone To Share 3G And 4G Networks

Both Optus and Vodafone have struggled in recent years with network coverage compared to Telstra, although whether that's been network congestion or network coverage has been a bit contentious (to put it mildly). The two companies have just announced that they've signed a memorandum of understanding to share 3G and 4G towers, which could mean massively improved service — or massive congestion.

The initial release came via Optus, so naturally enough it talks up the Optus angle, stating that Optus customers will gain access to nearly 1,000 additional mobile sites, providing around 20 per cent expansion in existing coverage areas. This isn't just in 3G areas; Optus' release notes that it'll allow it to expand 4G coverage in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Geelong, Central Coast, Gold Coast and Canberra, as well as accelerating Optus' rollout of services by a claimed 12-18 months.

The agreement will run for five years, during which time Optus will be the exclusive roaming partner for Vodafone customers, presuming the ACCC actually lets this go forward. More details as we have them.

Image: Cogdog



    So.. for a customer who is with one or the other.. if I happen to use an Optus tower as a Vodafone user, will there be roaming charges attached? I ask because when my wife, who is still with 3, is using a Vodafone tower, she is charged roaming fees.. you'd think, since 3 is now Vodafone, that it wouldn't be considered as roaming.. but it is. So I'm wonderfing what will happen under this new "sharing" partnership.. they talk about Optus being a "roaming partner" rather than simply sharing the infrastructure.. so I am assuming that you would be charged roaming fees?

      The agreement is to share sites and towers, this means that each company would be installing their own Radio equipment and no roaming would be involved.

        Are you sure Tobes?
        The use of the word "Roaming" sounds suspiciously like the issue that light487 raises.

          Ahh digging up the VF AU announcement it looks like there are two parts. The main part which is the agreement for shared access to sites and a secondary part regarding roaming from VF onto Optus. I missed that the first time.

      Bit hard for your wife, on 3, to be charged roaming charges when using Vodafone, since there hasn't been any charge when using Vodafone as a 3 customer since the merger.

        I worked for Vodafone, 3 roams to Tesltra, it has a roaming contract with them until the end of the year... hence the reason 3 hasn't dissolved into a single brand 'Vodafone' as yet..

        Tell me about it.. she got stung the first time we went to my parents' new house near Gosford last year. Now I just tether my Vodafone phone for her to use so she doesn't get stung again.

    Because that worked so well for the Vodafone and 3 merger...

      And vodaphone already had a proprietary towers, where as 3 simply shared one with telstra. Congradulation steven, you win Idiot Post of the Day!

        This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

    As a refugee from Optus who now uses Telstra, I found the coverage was fine; it was the damnable data congestion that drove me from them. This initiative will only fool people who think reception is the only important thing in a mobile network. They'll use them for a year, then come over to the Telstra side.

      Your point would be valid, if the Optus network was still congested. That issue has long since been resolved. I've been with Optus 9 years now and over the part year my data has been great. I also run regular speed tests next to my friend who is with Telstra, and in many instances, the Optus data speeds are actually a lot faster.

    Problem is that most of their coverage is doubled up in the same areas. The only thing with a real footprint is Optus 2G. I don't think this will really do much for regional areas but at least metro will be covered properly (which is lousy for both carriers having gaping black spots)

    The only other problem is that there are not many handsets which support all the bands. You would been 2G 900/1800mhz, 3G 850/900/2100, 4G 1800 to take full advantage, All of the Vodafone "850mhz" phones should be able to handle all of the 2G & 3G bands but for 4G only Samsung Galaxy S II 4G can handle all of the networks in use. I expect that all of the 4G handsets coming out from now will also support all these bands but there will be delays getting them to market and we will miss out on models altogether because it is hard to make a phone which has to support so many bands.

    yes this is what Vodafone needs - MORE smart phones using the already congested data network

    I'm with Optus, and I work in the Melbourne CBD, and I have zero coverage at my desk. I'm ten floors up and sit near a window with views out to the bay - you'd think I'd have better coverage. Let's hope (but not hold our breaths) that this improves general coverage at least...

      so why are you still with Optus....?? if you have no coverage?

      Move over to Telstra.

    My speed at home on Optus at 2am is about 4500kps. Speed at 9pm is 325kps. Same device, same position.
    I'd say adding vodafail customers to my tower is going to make things a whole lot worse.....

    Why not? They already share the same repeater towers in WA. Sharing the infrastructure is just the next step...................

    i'm with TPG (optus) and I find that when people call me (from across the table) they go right to voice mail. This will happen even when I have full reception then after 5minutes I get a sms saying missed calls, then they can call me with no issue.

    Before this I was with Optus (business plan) and never had any issues (unless I was calling my mate who had vodafone, and the same issues).

    Happens heaps

    Optus 3G 900/2100MHz
    Vodafone 3G 850/2100MHz
    Many 3G handsets are only dual-band, so who does this really help?

      Remember ALOT of vodafones current install base is actually 900mhz phones not 850

    Sharing towers is a great idea. It halves the number of residents whining that a tower is being built too close to a house and will make their brain explode.

    IMHO the government should compulsorily acquire all the existing towers and lease antenna space to any mobile telco so we all get better signal with less ugly towers.

    Put simply:
    - Optus will let Vodafone access 400 physical sites to build/dump equipment on
    - The two will build several hundred new physical sites for the same thing
    - Vodafone will roam onto Optus, most likely only in the 1-2% extra Vodafone intend to cover (currently vodafone cover 94.5% of the population, they want to expand to 96%)

    Vodafone will still be the carrier that covers the least of the population. Optus is already at 97%+, Telstra 99.3% .. even 3 with the current Telstra roaming covers more than Vodafone

    Exclusive roaming partners... so in other words, if you are out of your normal tower reception, and you need to roam, if there isn't a vodafone tower but there is a telstra tower, you simply don't get reception?
    Sounds dumb to me. Maybe a preferred roaming partner would make more sense.

      It's not dumb. If you don't like your carrier's network coverage, join another one.
      Just like Optus customers don't roam onto Vodafone, 3 or Telstra. And just like Telstra customers don't need to roam on Optus or Vodafone

      It's only the provider with the smallest coverage (Vodafone) who needs to roam.

    THis article is a bit misleading, i don;t expect much more, the agreement is to share a "site" and not "infrastructure" the share in infrastructure comes in for the roaming but that is it.

    This just allows both carriers to have greater coverage. and has nothing to do congestion.

    Optus and Vodaphone have just seperated from "shared equipment" from the initial 3G rollout and i doubt either carrier sees any value in it anymore with mobile growth

    It's good to know that the article doesn't appear to be biased towards Telstra despite the massive advertisements all over the page...

    "...to expand 4G coverage in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Geelong, Central Coast, Gold Coast and Canberra..."
    Man, Hobart never gets any love.

    wow, looks like i will be moving to telstra as soon as they get the SIII :P

    Vodafone has a stronger signal than Optus in most metro areas. it's where you go out of the metro area that Vodafone need to extend coverage.

    Voda have telstra roaming in Vic / Tas that you pay extra for, and you have to select it by calling customer service - so bet you will have to pay for it when it happens and Vodafones current coverage map desperately needs an update new country 850mhz / 2100 sites switched on, but coverage map does not show these yet.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now