« Press Releases | 21st July 2021

FSG awarded $3.66M for Regional Australia’s First Neutral Host Radio Access Network Trial

FSG Press Release NH

Field Solutions Holdings (ASX: FSG), Australia’s leading rural, regional, and remote challenger telecommunications carrier, is pleased to announce it has been awarded $3.66M from the Federal Government’s Mobile Blackspots Program Round 5a to trial Neutral Host model in partnership with Optus and help reduce the cost-of-service supply to regional Australia.

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Highlights

  • Funding of $3.66M
  • Trial of Neutral Host Radio Access Network equipment (Neutral Host)
  • FSG to launch the Regional Australia Network, Australia’s fourth Mobile Network Operator (MNO)
  • Optus to be 2nd MNO for trial, 3rd MNO to be announced in coming months
  • Supported by the Queensland Government
  • Delivering multi carrier coverage along the Adventure Way QLD (Thargomindah to Cunnamulla)
  • Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) Ready

FSG has successfully obtained funding under Mobile Blackspots Round 5a to trial Regional Australia’s first Neutral Host mobile delivery model. The Neutral Host model allows all Australian mobile network operators (MNO)—FSG, Optus, Vodafone and Telstra, to share the same mobile network equipment on a tower. The model helps reduce service supply costs to rural, regional, and remote Australia by eliminating each operator’s need to build or share a tower and deploy, manage, and maintain their own networks.

“Gone are the days of driving past a tower and having zero coverage because the tower belongs to the wrong carrier,” says Andrew Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, Field Solutions. FSG is pioneering the Neutral Host model to ensure rural, regional, and remote Australia receives a more comprehensive way to deliver network coverage. “This model is the only sensible way to deliver more services in more places for the same investment,” he said.

The Neutral Host trial will be deployed on the highly popular Queensland tourist and trucking route, the Adventure Way, running between Cunnamulla and Thargomindah. “The current service coverage gaps pose significant safety challenges for travellers on this popular route. Our planned Neutral Host network will enable all MNOs to service the route without needing to invest in any infrastructure.”

The result is a win for consumers, who can now enjoy better coverage irrespective of their carrier, more coverage for each of the participating carriers, and overall better choice and value for consumers. FSG’s Neutral Host product is also ready to be utilised for enabling State and Federal Public Safety Mobile Broadband programs. These developing programs are designed to extend communications for emergency services organisations across Australia.

FSG has once again partnered with Optus to trial this technology. For the trials, Optus and FSG will provide mobile services, with negotiations currently underway to introduce a third carrier.

“As a strong and long-time supporter of the Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program it is fantastic to see more funding going into this important initiative and in particular, support for these innovative trials. These trials offer an exciting opportunity, in collaboration with industry partners, to look at new, cost-effective ways to deploy reliable network coverage in regional – which is something that we believe all Australians should have access to – and we look forward to working with Field Solutions Group to bring this significant trial to life,” said Andrew Sheridan, Optus Vice President Regulatory and Public Affairs.

FSG’s Neutral Host services are designed to be open and available to all mobile network operators and support the roll-out of the planned Public Safety Mobile Broadband Services network. FSG’s MNO services are specifically designed for rural, regional, and remote Australia and will be launched under the Regional Australia Network (RAN) brand in FY22/23. “FSG will be Australia’s true fourth Mobile Network Operator, focused on delivering comprehensive services to rural, regional and remote Australia,” said Roberts.

This announcement has been authorised for release by the Board of FSG.

Click to download Press Release PDF

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