Darwin and Perth residents can get an early taste of 4G mobile broadband on 700MHz spectrum after Optus turned on the network in each CBD.
Optus had paid $649 million in the Digital Dividend auction for a 2x10MHz chunk of the nationwide 700MHz spectrum. The so-called beachfront spectrum is valuable for its ability to travel longer geographic distances than higher frequency spectrum, making it ideal for regional areas, and for its ability to travel through walls—providing better indoor coverage.
While telcos are not due to turn on 700MHz networks until January 2014, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has granted Optus an early access commercial licence to do a pilot in Perth and Darwin.
The commercial pilot by Optus follows technical trials with 700MHz spectrum.
“This brings Optus one step closer to the launch of our national 4G 700MHz network as we bring 4G to more places around Australia,” said Optus Networks managing director, Vic McClelland.
“It allows us to move beyond the testing phase into what customers experience on our live commercial network and enables us to deliver an enhanced 4G network experience.”
Darwin has not had Optus 4G coverage before this pilot. McClelland said Optus plans to reach 90 per cent of the Australian population with its 4G network by March 2015.
Customers must have compatible devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) to access the 700MHz network. Other 4G devices will connect to the Optus 1800MHz network.