TPG’s independent 4G network is no more

If you were hoping for a rival to Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone in the mobile world, and a chance to see someone else make a difference in your mobile coverage, it won’t be TPG. Even though it had been expected to launch its own mobile network, that is sadly no more.

Last year, there was a little bit of exciting news coming out of the telco world, as broadband provider TPG announced it wasn’t just getting into the mobile network world, but that it would be making it unlimited, too.

A neat play on the unlimited plans telcos began rolling out last year, TPG’s plan was to provide 1GB of downloads at full 4G speeds daily before capping things at slower speeds for the rest of the 24 hours, a concept which felt to some like a more intriguing proposition than the monthly cap the likes of Telstra and Vodafone were opting for at the time.

If it went into action, TPG’s plan could have given some of the bigger carriers some added competition, while also providing a different coverage map for customers across the country, handy if neither Telstra, Optus, nor Vodafone were really cutting it as telcos.

But TPG’s network doesn’t seem destined to be a real thing, at least not in the capacity it was originally intended.

This week, TPG has said that “due to factors outside TPG control, it has decided to cease the rollout of its mobile network in Australia”.

That means TPG’s own mobile network — which would have been likely rolled out in 4G and upgraded later on to 5G — won’t be finished or switched on, and that TPG’s current mobile activity will continue, but only by using the Vodafone network as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO).

The cessation of the TPG mobile network is attributed, at least in part, to the government’s announcement that Huawei equipment could not be used in the creation of 5G networks, a move that doesn’t affect Huawei phones, tablets, computers, or wearables, but does have an impact on the technology powering mobile networks in our country.

As such, TPG has decided not to continue with its mobile network rollout, all while the company looks to complete a merger with Vodafone locally.

“It is extremely disappointing that the clear strategy the company had to become a mobile network operator at the forefront of 5G has been undone by factors outside of TPG’s control,” said David Teoh, Executive Chairman of TPG.

“Over the past two years a huge amount of time and resource has been invested in creating and delivering on a strategy that would have positioned TPG very favourably to exploit the opportunities that the advent of 5G will present,” he said.

For now, that means Australians will be forced to choose between mobile networks operated by Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, which is pretty much the way it has been for over a decade. In other words, nothing really changes for most people.

Meanwhile, if you use TPG’s mobile service as it exists now, don’t expect that to be shut down, either. With that service relying on Vodafone’s network, there’s a good chance that will stay online, at least until Vodafone and TPG work out what to do with its possibly impending merger.

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