Optus calls on Federal Government to accelerate Queensland digital economy

Optus chief executive says the digital dividend spectrum may not be available until 2015 and "it doesn't need to take that long"

Optus has called on the Federal Government to help accelerate the digital economy in Queensland by allowing access to the 700 megahertz digital dividend spectrum sooner so it can start delivering its 4G services outside metropolitan areas.

In a speech at the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) in Brisbane, Optus chief executive, Paul O’Sullivan, said “high-speed broadband feeds the digital economy” and the solution to delivering 4G services sooner needs to come from government and broadcasters.

“To drive real competition in 4G services in regional Australia, there is an urgent need for broadcasters and government to find a solution,” he said. “Once it is resolved, we look forward to working with government to ensure all Queenslanders can gain access to competitive 4G services as soon as possible.”

Last year, O’Sullivan announced that Optus will roll out its new 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network by mid-2012 to “remain ahead of the rising demand for mobile data”.

However, with the auction of the digital dividend spectrum that is to take place later this year, it may be some time before Optus can start using it to deliver its 4G services.

“Unfortunately, that spectrum may not be available to operators who want to use it to launch commercial services until as late as 2015,” O’Sullivan said.

“That’s three years. Let me be clear, it doesn't need to take that long.

“We already have digital dividend spectrum sitting idle across about 40 regional towns – many in Queensland. More spectrum is becoming available every month.”

O’Sullivan added that the spectrum will provide “vital” competition to the people of Queensland in particular, as a “large proportion” of the state’s population live outside metropolitan areas.

Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

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