Australia gaining fourth mobile operator as TPG swoops in

12 Apr 2017

Image: Janaka Dharmasena/Shutterstock

Following a massive purchase of the majority of the 700MHz mobile broadband spectrum in Australia, TPG is going mobile.

Already a major player in Australia’s fixed-line internet market, TPG is shaking up the mobile market in the country with plans to make the dominant trio now a four-piece.

Its entry into the mobile broadband industry comes after a A$1.26bn purchase of a major chunk of the 700MHz mobile broadband spectrum.

Soon to become a direct competitor for Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, TPG has set aside a further A$600m to build a network reaching 80pc of the country’s population over the next three years.

“The network would provide broad coverage across densely populated areas of the country with approximately 2,000 to 2,500 sites,” said the company. “TPG estimates that its mobile network would be EBITDA break-even with 500,000 subscribers.”

The 700MHz spectrum is highly sought after in the mobile industry, as it often means fewer towers are needed to cover larger distances. Given Australia’s population distribution, that’s an appealing angle.

David Teoh, chairperson of TPG, claimed that the spectrum deal is a “tremendous development for the long-term future of TPG”.

“We are uniquely positioned to leverage our success in the Australian fixed-line broadband market to drive the next phase of growth for TPG’s shareholders and bring new competition to the Australian mobile market,” he said.

All happening down under

Recently, it emerged that some of Australia’s biggest cities are to be the first locations in the world to gain access to gigabit LTE, promising unprecedented broadband speeds.

Telstra, reeling from TPG’s move, announced in January that, in partnership with telecom giants Qualcomm, Ericsson and Netgear, it had turned on its gigabit LTE network, a precursor to full 5G internet.

So far, Telstra has made the service available in three Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, revealing plans to expand this to the cities of Perth and Adelaide in the near future.

It will also be initially limited to a range of just 1km in the heart of each city’s business districts.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic