Australia - Mobile Communications - 3G and 4G Infrastructure

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Australia - Mobile Communications - 3G and 4G Infrastructure

The three MNOs in Australia deployed 3G networks as early as the 1990 though it was not until the mid-2000s that 3G mobile networks started to be built in earnest. This was followed by a rapid take-up of 3G among consumers as they migrated from 2G networks. The development of 3G technologies enabled the mobile operators to offer high-bandwidth services such as video calling. The growth in the 3G subscriber base did not match consumer use of services initially. However, competition among operators encouraged lower pricing. Combined with the greater availability of inexpensive devices and the geographic expansion of upgraded networks, this allowed mobile broadband to take off.

3G's dominance is fast fading as LTE networks gain headway and consumers migrate to the new technology. Just as 3G saw the migration of a large proportion of subscribers from the older 2G GSM networks, the near comprehensive reach of LTE expected by the end of 2016 will see a growing proportion of subscribers using LTE-based services. This will be facilitated by competitive pressure for operators not to charge a premium for LTE connectivity, a trend which has been seen in many markets globally.

This report provides high-level information on 3G networks in Australia, as well as an analysis of infrastructure issues. For information on 4G/LTE developments see the separate report.

Key developments:

Crown Castle sold to Macquarie consortium for $2 billion; NBN Co trials providing backhaul to MNOs; 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, HSPA, UMTS, WCDMA.

Companies covered in this report include:

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Hutchinson, VHA, Crown Castle Agile, iiNet.

1. Synopsis
2. Background information
3. Network operators
3.1 Telstra
3.1.1 Background information
3.1.2 Telstra HSPA and LTE
3.1.3 2100MHz network closed
3.2 Optus
3.2.1 Background information
3.2.2 Network speeds and coverage
3.2.3 Co-sharing agreement sees network expansion
3.3 VHA
3.3.1 Background information
3.3.2 Merged operations
3.3.3 New network upgrades
4. Mobile sites infrastructure
4.1 Overview and statistics
4.2 Crown Castle
5. Infrastructure analysis
5.1 Structural separation and open networks
5.2 Squeezed out of the content markets
5.3 Mobile broadband market
5.4 Triple challenge of network transformation
5.5 NBN Co for mobile tower backhaul
6. Long-term evolution (LTE) (separate report)
7. Related reports
Table 1 Mobile base stations 2009; 2011 - 2015
Table 2 Crown Castle mobile tower acquisitions 2000 - 2012

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