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Australia - Mobile Communications - 3G Infrastructure

Deploying 3G networks has enabled the mobile operators to offer high-bandwidth services such as video calling and a range of other services. Early development of 3G cellular radio systems began back in the early 1990s but it was not until the mid-2000s that 3G mobile networks started to be built in earnest, followed by rapid take-up among consumers as they migrated from 2G networks. Since the late 2000s mobile broadband has taken off in response to lower pricing, the greater availability of inexpensive devices and networks which have become more reliable and capable.

Though about three quarters of subscribers use 3G services, this high proportion should begin to drop by the end of 2014 as LTE networks gain headway and consumers migrate to the new technology. Designed to provide voice and data services to end-users, 3G mobile networks differ from the older 2G GSM networks in that they provide higher bandwidth data services, allowing consumers access to a new range of content and applications. As such, the 3G market is characterised by the high uptake of value-added services across both the business and consumer segments.

Access to data and the internet is provided by a range of handsets and devices, including handsets functioning as a modem for a laptop or personal computer (plugged into the laptop or PC, or tethered wirelessly), or datacards inserted into a laptop or PC. Wireless 3G modems and smartphones acting as local WiFi hotspots are also common.

This report provides high-level information on the 3G networks and the mobile sites in Australia, and also provides an analysis of the infrastructure issues. For information on 4G and HSPA and LTE developments see separate report: Australia - Mobile Broadband - HSPA and LTE.

Companies mentioned

Companies mentioned in this report include – Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Hutchinson, VHA, Crown Castle Agile, iiNet.

Hot topics and technologies mentioned

Hot topics and technologies mentioned in this report include – 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, HSPA, UMTS, WCDMA.


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 Optus 4G LTE
3.2.3 Network speeds and coverage
3.2.4 Co-sharing agreement sees network expansion in 2013
3.3 VHA
3.3.1 Background information
3.3.2 Merged operations
3.3.3 New network upgrades – 2013
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
6. Mobile broadband High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and Long-term evolution (LTE) (separate report)
7. Related reports
Table 1 – Mobile base stations – 2009; 2011 - 2012
Table 2 – Crown Castle mobile tower acquisitions – 2000 - 2012

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