Telstra and TPG today announced a new agreement that will allow the two major telcos to share network access, significantly improving the latter’s coverage in regional and rural areas, which has been a sore point for the network.
The TPG Telecom Group actually owns some of Australia’s carriers including Vodafone, iiNet and Felix, so any existing and future customers who sign up with these telecom companies will benefit from the deal.
The deal will mean that all telecoms companies under TPG Telecom will expand their 4G mobile coverage from around 96% to 98.8% of the Australian population, overtaking Optus (with its current 97.3% coverage) and only Telstra in Australia even be surpassed measurement of 99.2%.
TPG and its affiliated brands will gain access to approximately 3,700 additional network coverage locations, increasing their 4G and 5G footprint fivefold compared to their existing reach.
New hope for regional and rural Australia
Currently, many residents in regional and rural Australia have a very limited choice of cell phone service providers, as Telstra’s plans are often the only real option for getting coverage in these regions.
That means affected customers will pay the premium prices associated with the telecom provider, but the new deal will give these Australians access to more affordable alternatives via Vodafone, iiNet, Felix and even TPG’s own mobile service.
The agreement is part of a 10-year deal where customers can see the benefits “through the end of the year” and TPG Telecom has the option to request two renewals of five years each, giving a total potential period of 20 years .
It’s worth noting that the agreement is yet to be approved by Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). In the past, the ACCC has tried to block the TPG-Vodafone merger (unsuccessfully), leaving it possible for the Australian Consumer Protection Agency to question the potentially anti-competitive nature of the deal.
Speaking to the ACCC, Chairman Rod Sims told TechRadar that “this is something we need to look at very closely.”
For customers in major cities and other urban areas, business will be business as usual after the deal is closed, with these Aussies still having access to the 4G and 5G networks of the telco they signed up with.
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