In Australia you have three network choices for Mobile coverage. Vodafone, which is the cheapest provider but are the least reliable network. Optus is more expensive than Vodafone, but also more reliable. Then there is Telstra, which is the most expensive network, but also the most reliable network for coverage access and speed. Today, Optus made some announcements that have the potential to bring Optus network coverage up to Telstra (well, alot closer anyway) while maintaining the current price benefit Optus customers enjoy. This will be especially of interest to metro customers.
Optus is redeplying their 900 frequency spectrum (a fancy word for room in the air to carry calls and data) from their 2G network (as people stop using 2G phones) to their 3G network for the Capital city metro markets. The benefits of lower band frequency are enormous and obvious for people that have devices connected at the lower range of 850 or 900. Firstly, the signal can travel further so you can be further from a base station and still get signal, also and more obvious is in building reception. These two benefits are enhanced by other factors such as the number of base stations and the geography of where you are, however 850 or 900 vs 2100, I would take the lower end any day of the week.
Currently I am using Telstra NextG because coverage in my house is stronger than when on Optus. I moved into the house in December and changed in March. You should not have to go out of your house or office to make a phone call, and Optus has been plagued by customers complaining that they need to do just that. This has been a key selling point of Telstra NextG, and was the reason I signed up and agreed to pay a premium to be on the network.
Optus however are now roling out 900mhz base stations in metro locations. So, if you are on Optus and are living with bad in building reception, and you have a dual band phone (such as the iphone4, Samsung GalaxySII, HTC Inspire and many more) you will at some time when the local tower is upgraded jump to the 900 frequency, and most of you will not have to change anything.
The benefit has the potential to be a major in building improvement, while you are still going to get the cheaper rates that Optus offers vs Telstra. Will I move back to Optus? I don’t know, my wife is on Optus and is about to use a dual band phone, so at some time in the near future the local tower will be upgraded and I will test out the result. If you asked me whether I would pay less for the same experience, hell yes – who would not. We just need to see whether the experience under the new network is better and by how much.
We’ll start to cnages roling through in March 2012 so watch this space.
Other things to note on 3G-
3G is delivered in two main bands in Australia, the 2100 frequency and the 850 or 900 frequency. Telstra has chosen the 850 for NextG, Vodafone has used 2100 in metro locations and 2100 in regional locations, and Optus has done the same. Recently Vodafone has also built a new 850 metro network and moving customers across to this service to take the load off their 2100 network.