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Optus first to acquire new 2100MHz spectrum licences to increase 3G mobile capacity in regional Australia
14 Jul 2010

Optus announced today that it is the first mobile network operator to successfully acquire new regional spectrum licences in a combination of 10 megahertz and 5 megahertz (MHz) of paired spectrum in the 2100MHz band at almost 1000 sites across regional Australia.

This new spectrum will enable Optus to strengthen its presence and capability in regional Australia significantly increasing capacity to existing mobile sites.

Areas that will benefit first from the spectrum acquisition include Bendigo in Victoria; Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and Townsville in Queensland; Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Port Macquarie in New South Wales.

Andrew Buay, Managing Director, Optus Products and Delivery said, "This is a fantastic result which enables Optus to continue to support the growing demand from our retail and business customers in regional Australia for mobile broadband and mobile data.

"Optus has traditionally been one of the most efficient users of spectrum and we plan to maximise this additional spectrum to support the future growth of 3G mobile services.

"The release of this regional spectrum, in advance of expected new spectrum allocations in the 700MHz and 2.5GHz bands in the coming years, will help us to continue to transform the playing field in the regional communications market. As well as strengthening Optus' position to challenge the incumbent by improving capacity and coverage in previously under-serviced areas.

"The purchase of these new spectrum licences illustrates Optus' continued commitment to invest significantly in our network to support mobile voice and mobile broadband growth and improve customer experience. We plan to maximise our new spectrum holdings to support the current and strong projected growth in demand for mobile broadband services in regional areas," Mr Buay said.

A recent report on the future of mobile broadband services found that by 2020 there will be almost 20 million mobile broadband subscriptions on handsets in Australia, together with another 6.3 million datacards, under a moderate growth scenario.1

"Optus appreciates the work undertaken by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), to complete the necessary technical and planning assessments to open up this otherwise idle spectrum. This spectrum will create new opportunities for the rollout of competitive mobile voice and broadband services in regional Australia," Mr Buay said.

The spectrum acquisition in regional areas complements Optus' recent acquisition from Qualcomm of an additional 10 MHz paired spectrum in the 2100 MHz band in all eight capital cities.

In the twelve months up to 31 March 2010, the number of Optus 3G services increased by almost 40 per cent from 2.58 million to 3.61 million, inclusive of Optus mobile broadband customers which increased more than 86 per cent to 907,000.

Optus now awaits the Government's release of a comprehensive new spectrum policy road map covering all details of the expected allocations in the 700MHz and 2.5GHz bands to provide the certainty required for investment in and planning for next generation mobile services.

1 The future deployment of mobile broadband services - 2.5GHz in Australia – Network Strategies (June 2010)

For more information:
Simone Bergholcs
Optus Corporate Affairs
Tel: (02) 8082 7850