Since 2009, Optus has invested a considerable amount of capital into upgrading its network, spending $1.8 billion in the process. Most recently, the telco has invested $600 million in network upgrades over the past year – and further investment has been forecast.
Media reports have pegged future investment from SingTel at $2 billion.
Optus first announced its intention to offer 4G services in September 2011, stating it would have 4G services available from April 2012 in Newcastle, Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie.
“Optus has invested nearly $2 billion in the past four years and we will spend over $500 million in this financial year alone on our mobile network. This investment will ensure our mobile sites and fibre transmission network can deliver a real choice in 4G services for Australian consumers and businesses,” Paul O’Sullivan, Optus chief executive, said in September 2011.
In February 2012, Optus acquired vividwireless for $230 million, and with it, 98MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band, with the intention of using the spectrum for its 4G network using LTE-TDD (Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex) technology.
On schedule, Optus announced its 4G technology was being switched on in the greater Newcastle region in April 2012 for trials for more than 1000 businesses and residents. The rollout to other metro areas, such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, were pegged for mid-2012, with Brisbane and Adelaide to join the network from the first half of 2013.
Residents on the trial were initially allocated 4G wireless dongles, while businesses received mobile Wi-Fi adaptors.
To further prepare for a national rollout of its LTE-TDD network, Optus announced in June this year that it would build two LTE-TDD testing facilities at St Marys in Western Sydney and the Optus headquarters at Macquarie Park, NSW, with speeds from the trials reaching 25-87Mbps.
Shortly afterwards, in July, business customers with Optus got the first taste of its 4G services in Sydney and Perth using a USB and a Wi-Fi modem. Both devices used dual mode 4G/3G HSPA technology on the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHZ bands.
“Our intention to build the best mobile network in Australia relies on having a strong foundation in 3G, while transitioning into a 4G world,” Günther Ottendorfer, managing director, Optus Networks, said.
The launch of consumer services on Optus’ 4G network soon followed in Sydney, Perth and Newcastle in early September. Melbourne followed suite a couple of weeks later, with Optus claiming it had the largest 4G footprint in the city’s metro area, spanning around 10km from the CBD.
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