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Optus outlines its 4G future

Canberra first for TD-LTE rollout

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Optus is hoping to shed its bridesmaid status, unveiling plans for a major rollout across four frequency bands, announcing its first TD-LTE deployment, and adding a bunch of cities and regional centres to its rollout.

Managing director of Optus Networks Guenther Ottendorfer told a press conference today that the aim is to use all of Optus 4G-capable spectrum assets in a multi-band: the 700 and 2500 MHz spectrum it won after the recent Australian government's auction, as well as the 1800 and 2300 MHz spectrum it already held (the latter acquired when it bought fixed wireless player VIVID Wireless).

Its biggest enthusiasm is reserved for the dozen TD-LTE base stations it's rolled out in Canberra )with a further 20 to follow by the end of the year. Ottendorfer said Optus has been learning from Softbank's rollout of 29,000 TD-LTE base stations in Japan, and has high expectations for the technology.

He said Optus's experience is that of the theoretical maximum 70 Mbps end user performance in its deployment (unpaired 20 MHz spectrum), the company has seen 61 Mbps. The carrier will be watching the Canberra experience closely – particularly since it's configured the network to offer a 3:1 down/up ratio. This, he said, will give Optus a feel for customer adoption of mobile video on the platform.

The initial TD-LTE test is using data devices only, since Optus is still waiting to see how voice over LTE develops.

In its FD-LTE 1800/2500 MHz rollout, the carrier wants to exceed 70 percent of the Australian population by the end of 2014. As well as capital city coverage, it's nominated Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton in Queensland, the Sydney Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Thredbo and Mount Hotham in the skifields, the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia and Margaret River in WA as targets for the deployment.

Over the next 12 months, it plans to deploy 1,000 base stations, and will add Adelaide, the NSW Central Coast, Wollongong and Canberra to the 4G network. As well, with its 700 MHz 4G network, the company says it has vastly improved its in-building coverage. ®

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