Op­tus in bush chal­lenge

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS­TIAN ED­WARDS

OP­TUS is in­vest­ing $ 1 bil­lion to build an al­ter­na­tive mo­bile of­fer­ing in re­gional Aus­tralia in a bid to break Tel­stra’s “stran­gle­hold” on cov­er­age away from big cities.

The coun­try’s sec­ond largest telco yes­ter­day an­nounced plans to spend $ 1 bil­lion on 500 new re­gional and re­mote mo­bile sites that it said would help con­nect ru­ral busi­nesses us­ing its net­work to met­ro­pol­i­tan and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

Op­tus chief ex­ec­u­tive Allen Lew said the in­vest­ment, to be made by the end of June 2018, would trans­form the com­pany and chal­lenge Tel­stra’s na­tional net­work po­si­tion.

“To be a cred­i­ble player in this mar­ket we must add a na­tion­wide mo­bile net­work, to pro­vide a vi­able al­ter­na­tive and en­hance our value propo­si­tion,” Mr Lew said. “To­day we’ve raised the bar as far as our com­peti­tors are con- cerned.” Mr Lew said in the past, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment made de­ci­sions that sup­ported the creation of a sin­gle re­gional net­work.

“But now we want to break the stran­gle­hold of the in­cum­bent and we be­lieve we can do it off our own backs,” he said.

Mr Lew said con­sumer feedback from both in­creas­ingly mo­bile- de­pen­dent re­gional and met­ro­pol­i­tan busi­ness cus­tomers in­di­cated a lack of al­ter­na­tives where needs were not be­ing met.

“We looked closely at travel pat­terns and an­a­lysed data points to de­sign a net­work that met the needs of not just re­gional cus­tomers but for the met­ro­pol­i­tan busi­nesses that ser­vice them.” Mr Lew said the strate­gic busi­ness op­por­tu­nity would be to build mar­ket share in an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment.

“We are look­ing to cre­ate a halo ef­fect through re­gional in­vest­ment in terms of get­ting higher out­put and win­ning fur­ther met­ro­pol­i­tan busi­ness,” Mr Lew said. “Then of course the busi­ness case is made for car­ry­ing con­tent through into re­gional ar­eas.”

The Sing­tel- owned telco said its in­vest­ment, in­clud­ing 114 new sites un­der the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s Mo­bile Blackspots Progam, would also up­grade al­most 2000 sites from 3G to 4G.

An Op­tus spokesman said as part of the Gov­ern­ment’s co- funded black spots pro­gram, which matches fund­ing with provider in­vest­ment, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment con­trib­uted just $ 26.4 mil­lion out­side of Op­tus’ en­tire re­gional in­vest­ment pro­gram.

Mr Lew said the com­pany was al­ready in dis­cus­sions with other providers over the avail­abil­ity of the new net­work hard­ware, in­clud­ing the tow­ers.

“We will al­low peo­ple to colo­cate on our tow­ers,” he said.

VI­ABLE AL­TER­NA­TIVE: Op­tus chief ex­ec­u­tive Allen Lew.

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