Telstra and TPG/Vodafone ink coverage-boosting network deal

Telstra and TPG Telecom have announced a game-changing, billion-dollar network-sharing deal that’s set to boost mobile coverage across regional Australia.

Subject to regulatory approval, the telco giants have agreed to a ten-year Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) partnership, which will allow both companies to share mobile assets and spectrum. In layman’s terms, it’s a deal that will see TPG and Vodafone increase 4G coverage nation-wide, and allow Telstra to access TPG’s 4G and 5G network spectrum in rural areas.

What does the Telstra/TPG network deal involve?

The agreement will give TPG Telecom access to approximately 3,700 of Telstra’ mobile network assets, meaning that TPG and Vodafone’s 4G network coverage will increase from 96% to 98.8% of the Australian population. In exchange, Telstra will be permitted to deploy its own infrastructure on up to 169 TPG Telecom mobile sites, and will also receive access to TPG Telecom’s 4G and 5G spectrum holdings.

TPG Telecom will also decommission 725 mobile sites currently active within the area covered by the MOCN agreement, which will lead to decrease in energy consumption and environmental impacts, as well as lower operating costs.

While the agreement will obviously provide major value to shareholders, both TPG/Vodafone and Telstra customers will also benefit significantly, particularly outside of metropolitan areas. TPG Telecom CEO Iñaki Berroeta emphasised the positive impacts of the impending deal for a range of brands falling under the TPG Telecom umbrella.

“The deal will give TPG Telecom’s consumer, enterprise and wholesale customers seamless access to a national network. This will enable TPG Telecom’s Vodafone, TPG, iiNet, Lebara
and Felix brands to improve their services for regional Australians.

“We will be open for business in regional and rural Australia like never before, offering a 4G network that provides 98.8% population coverage and rapidly growing 5G coverage across the nation.”


Related: Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone: Which mobile network has the best coverage in Australia?


Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the agreement would allow the company to increase capacity in rural areas, and help grow its network in under-served regions.

“With more people moving to regional areas as a result of COVID, congestion in some areas has increased. This additional spectrum will also ensure that Telstra customers will experience significantly reduced congestion at busy times.

“Telstra’s network has always been and will continue to be the best network – the structure of the deal ensures that we will continue to differentiate in network leadership for our customers in coverage and services.”

Mr Penn also said that Telstra will maintain its one million square kilometre ‘competitive advantage’ in areas where Optus and TPG/Vodafone coverage is lacking or non-existent.

“Mobile coverage is often talked about as population coverage, however we all know that it’s the square kilometres of coverage when you travel between towns and cities that also matters. It is the fabric of our mobile network.

“This is critical for customers living and working in those areas. It provides security and safety when travelling long distances on major roads and is only available for our customers travelling through or working or living in those areas.”

What does this mean for customers?

If you’re a Vodafone, TPG, iiNet, Lebara or Felix mobile customer, this partnership means you’ll receive automatic access to additional coverage once the deal is finalised, which is likely to be by the end of 2022. You’ll also continue to have access to the same 3G, 4G, and 5G coverage as before, including in areas where TPG has an existing network sharing arrangement with Optus.

Similarly, Telstra customers will also reap the rewards, as the spectrum-sharing agreement will offer faster Telstra 4G and 5G speeds across regional Australia. It’s unknown yet as to whether other brands using the Telstra network, such as Belong and Boost Mobile, will see coverage improvements down the line.

The initial MOCN deal is set to run for 10 years, but TPG will be able to request two five-year contract extensions. However, it still requires approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to be made official.

Telstra phone plans

Telstra is known for its expansive and strong network coverage, which many customers argue is worth the comparatively-higher plan pricing. The telco offers postpaid, prepaid, and phone-on-a-plan mobile options, as well as mobile broadband, NBN and 5G home internet.

The following table shows a selection of published Telstra postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Vodafone and TPG phone plans

Vodafone and TPG completed their merger in July 2020, although continue to operate as separate brands. Both telcos use the same 3G, 4G networks to provide mobile coverage, with Vodafone also offering its 5G network in available areas. TPG offers a small suite of SIM-only prepaid plans, while Vodafone’s range is much more extensive, featuring postpaid, prepaid, and phone payment plans.

The following table shows a selection of published Vodafone postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

The following table shows a selection of published TPG prepaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

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