Australia’s second largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Optus, has announced the launch of trial 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the Hunter region, with it saying that it has coverage of Greater Newcastle, Maitland, Port Stephens and areas in the Hunter Valley. According to the operator, select customers in the region will be able to access the wireless broadband services, with over a thousand business and residential subscribers expected to receive 4G service and devices from next week. Those selected to take part in the trial will gain access to the LTE-based services free of charge, albeit in return for providing feedback to Optus with regards to network performance and device capability; the cellco says it plans to use customer feedback from the trials to help ‘optimise its 4G national rollout over the coming months’.
Looking ahead, Optus has also reiterated its commercial 4G launch plans, with it noting that the trials are taking place ahead of its capital city network rollout, which will see the LTE network switched on in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from mid-2012. Phase two of the rollout, meanwhile, will see an expansion of 4G services to Brisbane and Adelaide from the first half of 2013.
Commenting on the development, Gunther Ottendorfer, Optus Managing Director Networks said: ‘Today marks the first step towards Australians having a choice for 4G services so they can connect and interact in new ways. By working with our customers to gather their feedback, Optus aims to continually enhance its 4G network and ensure that customers have an outstanding experience now, and into the future.’