Telstra and TPG Pen Deal To Improve Network Quality in Regional Australia

Telstra and TPG Pen Deal To Improve Network Quality in Regional Australia
Telstra and TPG logos. Image: Compiled by Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

Telco giants Telstra and TPG have signed a deal that will see the duo team up to improve network coverage within regional Australia.

The announcement comes just days after the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review was published, highlighting key problems throughout regional Australian telco infrastructure.

It was noted that the bushfires between 2019 and 2020 caused significant pressure for networks in regional Australia and that the pandemic put major pressure on the existing regional infrastructure.

In recent memory, the remote Northern Territory community of Wadeye was hit with two Telstra outages within a fortnight. Network access doesn’t come easily outside of Australia’s densely populated areas.

So with Australia’s two biggest telcos collaborating in regional Australia, what can we expect?

Well, the deal is set to last for 10 years, dubbed the “Multi-Operate Core Network” (MOCN) commercial agreement. Telstra said it will provide wholesale customers with greater value while also giving TPG customers access to greater 4G and 5G services within regional Australia.

Under the deal, TPG will decommission 725 signal towers in areas already covered by Telstra’s network, although the company will get network access to 3,700 Telstra towers.

What this deal means to customers is that Telstra and TPG will share their networks and mobile network sites in regional Australia.

If the deal goes through, TPG’s 4G coverage of Australia will bounce from 96 per cent to about 98.8 per cent. Meanwhile, Telstra’s access to TPG’s infrastructure will increase available capacity to its customers, opening up Telstra’s user base to TPG’s 4G and 5G spectrums.

Both telcos will continue to operate their own networks individually, especially where key functionality differences between the companies exist (say, for example, differences in offered plans or in metropolitan areas). This deal doesn’t encompass NBN networks and only involves mobile networks.

“This additional spectrum will mean that all Telstra customers will continue to experience Australia’s best and fastest network across the country, in combined 4G and 5G speeds,” says Andrew Penn, Telstra’s CEO.

“With more people moving to regional areas as a result of COVID, congestion in some areas has increased. This additional spectrum will also ensure that Telstra customers will experience significantly reduced congestion at busy times.”

Telstra will deploy infrastructure at up to 169 TPG Telecom sites under this deal, which would improve the network experience for both Telstra and TPG customers within signal range.

“We will be open for business in regional and rural Australia like never before, offering a 4G network that provides 98.8 per cent population coverage and rapidly growing 5G coverage across the nation,” added Iñaki Berroeta, TPG Telecom’s CEO.

“The agreement demonstrates best-practice asset utilisation and a commitment to rationalising our operations to deliver a better customer experience, while increasing capital efficiency.”

The MOCN deal is subject to regulatory approval and could kick off as early as this year.