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Tassie Catfight: Optus & Telstra Do Battle AS NBN Rollout

A new battle for market share has kicked off between Optus and Telstra in an unlikely location – rural Tasmania.

The state’s Premier, announced the telco was to make a $25m investment in its networks in the region “giving Tasmanians greater innovation, choice and competition for their mobile services” and includes the expansion of 3G mobile broadband service.

This project means a three-fold increase in the number of mobile sites to 100 plus and will cover 96 per cent of the state, which has a population of just over half a million.

This comes as Telstra announced its upgrades to faster ADSL2+ broadband connections Tasmania, which is also just 30km from NBN test site of Scottsdale.

The National Broadband Network Co trial run of its optical fibre network which kicked off in 2009 included Tasmanian towns of Midway Point Smithton, Scottsdale, (the latter two have less than 2000 inhabitants) and is currently rolling out cables at seven ‘stage 2’ sites there to include Georgetown, St Helens and South Hobart.

‘Stage 3’ will connect the regional cities of Hobart and Launceston and in total will link 100,000 fibre to premises. In fact, coverage extends to most areas except mountainous regions in the very south and west.

However, just around 15 per cent have activated the NBN’s service, a spokesperson confirmed to ChannelNews today. Fifty per cent of test households acepted the new line option.

But Singtel owned Optus is looking to spread its wings even further and muscle in on Telstra’s hegemony in the region.

 “Over 45 towns, for the first time, will have choice between network
providers delivering more competition and more value to customers,”
Optus said.

“With this significant expansion we will be the only mobile carrier
capable of challenging the incumbent’s network reach in Tasmania,” said Günther Ottendorfer, MD Optus Networks.

Adelaide based Internode are also busy at work there, upgrading its DSLAM equipment at exchanges as are iiNet.

So, it looks like the battle for Tassie customers between the telco’s will last for the interim until the fibre network is fully functional, according to a source.

Optus coverage is wide ranging to say the least – extending to a number
of  very regional areas including Stanley (North West) to Scottsdale in
the (North East) to Queenstown (West) Coles Bay and Swansea on the East.

The
telco’s existing mobile sites in Devonport, Hobart and Launceston are
also undergoing “a significant upgrade program to expand their
capacity.”

And it is looking to expand its retail might with new openings of ‘yes’ Optus Shops in Hobart and Launceston and Devonport.