Optus wants to spend $1 billion fixing its regional coverage

Better reception in the boonies… Photo: Graham Crouch/Getty Images

Optus is planning to take on Telstra in its traditional stronghold, announcing plans to spend $1 billion to improve and expand its regional mobile network.

Australia’s no. 2 telco plans to build 500 new mobile sites across regional and remote parts of Australia, piggybacking off the federal government’s mobile blackspots program at 114 sites.

Late last year, the government announced $213 million in funding for 266 new or upgraded mobile base stations nationally, split between Telstra ($63.7m) Optus ($36.4m) and Vodafone ($1.6m).

Optus also wants to upgrade 1800 sites from 3G to 4G and add extra 4G capacity on 200 sites.

The company says it will also continue to roll out its satellite small cell technology for mobile voice and data services in remote areas.

The push into regional Australia has the potential to challenge Telstra’s dominance for the first time, with Optus offering a 30-day trial for potential new regional customers who can cancel without charge if they’re not happy.

Optus CEO Allen Lew said it was the company’s biggest spend in regional Australia in its 25-year history.

“This represents one of the single largest investments in regional mobile infrastructure in Australia’s history,” he said.

“Optus is building out its mobile network in the places where people live, work and travel to ensure they can lead a vibrant online life. Importantly, we are densifying the mobile network to provide better download speeds for data-hungry applications such as video streaming.”

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