Australian Telcos Ink Deal to Strengthen Regional Mobile Coverage

TPG Telecom and Optus Mobile have announced a new agreement designed to strengthen the regional mobile network and pave the way for a new era of choice and competition for customers across regional Australia.
Under the regional Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) agreement, Optus will provide TPG Telecom with access to its regional radio access network, and the two telcos will share spectrum in regional Australia.
TPG Telecom will gain access to 2,444 Optus mobile network sites in regional Australia, increasing its current national 4G coverage from around 400,000 square kilometres to around 1,000,000 square kilometres and 98.4 per cent of the population.
Optus will licence some of TPG’s spectrum for use in the MOCN, delivering enhanced capacity, speed and service quality to TPG and Optus customers in regional Australia.
Customers and communities will also benefit from Optus’ commitment to accelerate its 5G rollout in the regions, fast-tracking the number of 5G sites in the regional MOCN to 1500 by 2028 and 2,444 by the end of 2030.
Once implemented, TPG Telcom’s retail and wholesale customers (including Vodafone, TPG, iiNet, Lebara and felix customers) will use Optus’ 4G and 5G regional network on an equivalent basis to Optus customers.
Optus and TPG will operate their own core networks, allowing each telco to maintain network control, enabling differentiation of service for customers and independent control of security and resiliency.  They will also continue to operate their own 4G and 5G radio access networks in metropolitan areas.
Optus Interim CEO Michael Venter said the agreement was a significant win for regional Australia.
“For over 30 years, Optus has brought choice and competition to Australia through investment in network services and infrastructure,” said Optus Interim CEO Michael Venter. “Optus and TPG Telecom will be positioned to provide consumers with more choice and better services as we accelerate our investment in the regions. The agreement will reduce combined 5G network rollout costs in regional Australia, enabling the rollout of 5G infrastructure to be completed two years earlier than previously planned.”
TPG Telecom CEO Iñaki Berroeta said the network sharing agreement would significantly extend the telco’s mobile network reach across Australia and enable growth of its customer base in regional and metropolitan areas.   “This network sharing arrangement will reset the competitive landscape for mobile services in regional areas and provide Australians with more choice than ever before,” he said.
Berroeta said by sharing regional network assets, TPG and Optus can bring coverage benefits to customers at a significantly lower cost than duplicating infrastructure.
“This will allow us to reduce rollout and operating costs, make better use of network assets and deliver huge customer benefits,” he said.
“In a country as large as Australia, this is the sustainable approach we need to maximise established infrastructure and expand the reach of telecommunications services, competition and choice for consumers.”
This active network-sharing arrangement brings together two largely duplicated regional networks, delivering an overall bigger network with more capacity for TPG Telecom and Optus customers.
The deal builds upon the existing passive equipment-sharing joint venture between TPG Telecom and Optus, which includes around 3,500 sites in metropolitan areas. It paves the way for potential expansion of sharing arrangements, allowing them to unlock further capital and operating cost efficiencies and improve customer network services.
The non-exclusive MOCN agreement has an initial term of 11 years and includes an option for TPG Telecom to extend the agreement for another five years.
Subject to relevant regulatory approvals, the MOCN is expected to be available to TPG and Optus customers in early 2025.

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