Optus plans to spend $1 billion on expanding its mobile network across regional Australia over the next 11 months, in what the telco is calling its biggest regional capital expenditure spend in 25 years.
The investment seeks to fund 500 new mobile sites across the country, including 114 sites on the government’s mobile black spots list. Optus will also use the money to upgrade more than 1800 sites from 3G to 4G and upgrade existing 4G capacity at more than 200 sites. The telco’s small cell satellite technology rollout will also continue, building on its existing deployment of 30 small cell sites in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The first new mobile network sites to be announced constitute $4.5 million of the spend and cater to Tamworth and the surrounding sites of Calala, Tamworth CBD, East Piper Street, Emerald Hill, Carroll, Curlewis, Gunnedah, Tamworth / Oxley Vale, Attunga, Duri, Hallsville, Piallamore, Moonbi, Barraba Central, Bendemeer and Kingswood. Nine of these will be co-built with an as yet unnamed carrier.
Optus chief executive Allen Lew said the move was a landmark investment in regional Australia.
“Optus’ funding is earmarked to expand coverage and improve overall network performance for residents, businesses, and our wholesale partners. It will also help build the network resilience that is critical to supporting public safety and emergency services during natural disasters,” he said.
“Regional communities rely on a strong mobile network to support their key industries, and to deliver critical services like health care and education. Through this investment, Optus will help propel regional businesses into national and international markets by providing network reliability; high-speed connectivity; and advanced technologies such as cloud and cyber security services that industries need to thrive and grow.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the investment was a boost to the government's Mobile Blackspot Program.
“These new sites announced by Optus today add to the already significant investment in the New England Electorate by the Federal Coalition Government under the Mobile Blackspot Program which will see 37 new or upgraded mobile phone towers built to improve coverage for local residents,” he said.
Regional development minister Fiona Nash commended the regional spend.
“An investment of this size is a huge vote of confidence in our regions. Some 500 new towers is a great result for our regions,” she said.