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Optus spends $1 billion on improving regional coverage

From no bars to gold bars: Optus' biggest ever investment will bring better mobile coverage to regional and remote Australia and help to nix black spots.

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On Optus? It looks like your mobile coverage is about to get a lot better in regional Australia.

The telco has today announced a massive AU$1 billion investment in regional and rural Australia to eradicate mobile blackspots, improve overall mobile coverage outside the big cities and help future proof the networks for data-hungry applications like video streaming.

It's the biggest network investment in the company's 25-year history and will fund:

  • 500 new mobile sites across regional and remote Australia (including 114 sites built through the government's Mobile Blackspots Program)
  • Upgrades for more than 1,800 sites to go from 3G to 4G
  • The addition of 4G to more than 200 sites (to increase capacity for peak periods)
  • The continued rollout of satellite small-cell technology (bringing voice and data to the remote outback)

While Optus is Australia's second-largest telco, it's traditionally struggled to go head-to-head with Telstra in regional areas (thanks to Telstra's strong legacy from its days as the national Telecom). But while Telstra has also been investing in its network (committing AU$250 million to improvements this time last year after a series of high profile outages) Optus' AU$1 billion splash is a massive investment.

The expenditure, slated to be outlaid until June 2018, comes on top of more than AU$3.6 billion that Optus says it has funnelled into its mobile networks since 2015.

Optus CEO Allen Lew said it represented "one of the single largest investments in regional mobile infrastructure" in Australian history.

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