Australia’s second largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Optus, has announced a raft of network-related developments, the most notable of which is arguably the launch of commercial Long Term Evolution-based (LTE-based) services for SME and government customers in Sydney and Perth from today. As the next stage of its 4G rollout, Optus has confirmed the expanded availability of services offered over its in-deployment Frequency Division Duplex LTE (FDD-LTE) network, noting that customers in the two aforementioned cites will able to connect either via USB mobile broadband dongles or mobile Wi-Fi hotpots. Two 4G-compatible devices will be offered by Optus, with those being the ‘Optus 4G USB’ and the ‘Optus 4G mobile Wi-Fi modem’. Both devices will use dual mode 4G/3G HSPA technology enabling them to operate across the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz spectrum bands.
Alongside the FDD-LTE network development, Optus has also revealed that, in preparation for the construction of a national Time Division Duplex LTE (TDD-LTE) network in 2013, it has begun trials of such services at the Optus Campus in Macquarie Park and St Marys in western Sydney. Conducting its first public demonstration of the technology the operator achieved a peak site throughput capacity of over 200Mbps and a consistent per-user range of speeds between 25Mbps and 87Mbps.
Coupled with the 4G developments, Optus has also highlighted the continued work on enhancing its 3G infrastructure, with the cellco claiming that, since announcing a number of network initiatives in September 2011 to boost indoor coverage and deliver faster data speeds, it has upgraded more than 1,000 3G mobile sites using its 900MHz spectrum. The work, it says, has resulted in stronger 3G performance for Optus mobile customers across regional centres and major capital cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin and Perth, with Gunther Ottendorfer, managing director at Optus Networks, stating: ‘Over the next twelve months, Optus will continue to roll out 3G coverage enhancements to the remainder of the network including Brisbane, Newcastle, Wollongong and Adelaide.’
To support its network rollouts, Finnish vendor Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has announced that it has been selected by Optus as a partner for its key network initiatives. The agreement between the two companies reportedly includes ‘modernisation of the mobile network, refarming the 900MHz GSM frequency band, and providing infrastructure and services for LTE rollout in Sydney and Perth’. Further, the agreement will reportedly see NSN become the sole LTE core provider for Optus. The vendor noted in a press release that it is upgrading the Optus mobile network and deploying 4G using its Single RAN platform, based on its compact, energy-efficient Flexi Multiradio Base Station, while it is also providing its Evolved Packet Core platform including Flexi NS (Network Server) and Flexi NG (Network Gateway). Optus’ LTE, GSM and 3G networks meanwhile will be monitored, managed and optimised by NSN’s unified network management system, NetAct.