Optus has asked the federal government for AUD200 million (USD155.2 million) to allow it to almost double the size of its new 3G network and achieve 98% population coverage. Australia’s second largest cellco by subscribers last week announced plans to spend up to AUD800 million to build a new 3G network, which it said would reach 96% of the population. Optus said it would build between 2,000 and 2,500 base stations and deliver coverage to 650,000 square kilometres of the Australian landmass. The telco said it had lodged a new proposal with the federal government which, if approved, would allow it to expand this by a further 500,000 square kilometres using an additional 750 base stations. The extension is expected to cost about AUD370 million, with AUD200 million to be funded by the government’s broadband connect programme. The extended network would operate in the 900MHz spectrum, pending its successful evaluation.