Optus has announced their biggest regional capital expenditure program in their 25 year history, committing $1 billion to upgrade and expand their network across regional Australia over the next twelve months.

Like all the networks, Optus can easily talk about the billions of dollars that are spent here, infrastructure alone, plus licence fees add up fast.  Optus say they have spent more than $3.6 billion on their network in the last two years.

With this new funding 500 new sites will be built across regional Australia.  That number includes the 114 being built with the assistance of government funding under the Mobile Blackspot Program.

Primarily, the upgrade will help complete the more than 1,800 sites being bumped up from 3G to 4G technology, as well as adding additional peak 4G capacity to over 200 sites.

Optus CEO Allen Lew said  “This represents one of the single largest investments in regional mobile infrastructure in Australia’s history. Optus’ funding is earmarked to expand coverage and improve overall network performance for residents, businesses, and our wholesale partners. It will also help build the network resilience that is critical to supporting public safety and emergency services during natural disasters.

“Optus is building out its mobile network in the places where people live, work and travel to ensure they can lead a vibrant online life. Importantly, we are densifying the mobile network to provide better download speeds for data-hungry applications such as video streaming.”

The announcement today was being made in Tamworth, where local Member Barnaby Joyce enjoys much support from the community for things like the Mobile Blackspot Program.  Some $4.5 million is being spent by Optus in the area, including 16 new sites in such areas as Bendemeer up the New England Highway.

The Hon Deputy Prime Minister and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, welcomed Optus’ investment in his Electorate “These new sites announced by Optus today add to the already significant investment in the New England Electorate by the Federal Coalition Government under the Mobile Blackspot Program which will see 37 new or upgraded mobile phone towers built to improve coverage for local residents. It is great to see this investment by Optus and I look forward to working with them and other telcos to improve local mobile coverage,” Mr Joyce said.

This will be a blow to Vodafone, not because of the coverage differential, but because they have been lobbying the Government to enforce Domestic Roaming between carriers.  With Optus throwing so much money into towers – the default answer may likely be “if they can do it, why can’t you”.  Time will tell though.