Despite what anyone tells you, your view of mobile phone coverage is an extremely subjective thing. Whether it’s Telstra with 98% of the population covered, 90%+ of the geographic coverage, or Optus spending several hundred million to increase just 2 percentage points in their own coverage, what actually affects you (and me) most is that nasty blackspot that you pass by every day or so.
So don’t believe the rhetoric. Depending on where you live and what you do, you only cover a fraction of a percent of the geographic area of this great brown land. So everyone’s view of mobile phone coverage is different. It could also be that many people you call have a similar geographic footprint to you.
If you live in an area where Optus have poor coverage or some blackspots, then they may appear to you like the worst carrier in the world, despite what your co-worker (who lives in a good Optus area) says.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of those major equipment vendors that build the networks for the carriers. They sell very expensive things to a very small number of potential customers. For a piddly $500M, they can increase coverage to a few more fine citizens. But from a marketing perspective, this is a tough gig for any vendor.
So I read with interest the development of femto cells – tiny GSM base stations that are suitable for deployment in a home (see also here). My house has way too much concrete and the Vodafone coverage is nothing fantastic, so the thought of boosting coverage in my home for just a few hundred dollars is very attractive.
The companies with the biggest interest in this development are these very traditional large equipment vendors. This posts the biggest opportunity and the biggest risk for them. On the one hand, they can vastly expand their market and sell devices to every mum and dad. However, the risk is that other vendors who are already selling broadband and wireless devices to the home are in a better position to grab a share of this new market.