Optus and Nokia Siemens Networks today successfully demonstrated Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile technology at a Thai restaurant in Gordon, Sydney, but did not make clear exactly when the upgrade to its network would take place.
The telco would only say it expected a 2013 time frame for the technology to be available. "We feel the auction will happen in 2012 and we feel the spectrum will become commercially available at the end of 2013 calendar — and the government has actually set that time frame," said Henry Calvert, Optus' director of mobile access and broadband, referring to government auctions of mobile spectrum required for the technology.
Three telecommunication executives — Calvert, Optus mobile network director Andrew Smith, and sales director of radio and core networks at Nokia Siemens Networks Mike Smathers — conducted the demonstration at the media event. The live demonstration had two screens — one with 3G speeds, the second displaying LTE speeds. LTE download speeds reached 40Mbps and the 3G download speeds reached 3Mbps.
The second demonstration was a HD video conference, with an Optus employee standing next to an internet gateway server in Sydney suburb, Pyrmont. He held up today's newspaper to prove the demo wasn't a recording. The signal didn't drop out.
"Optus continues to build on the significant investment in its network to support mobile and data growth and improve customer experience; investing trials of LTE technology is another step in continuing to deliver a high quality service," said Andrew Buay, Optus' managing director of products and delivery.
The LTE trial is in partnership with Optus' parent company Singtel and involves technology providers Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC and ZTE. Smith said that all companies had agreed on a common testing program that would allow the companies to "bring the results together".
Nokia Siemens is working with Optus in the first and second phase of the LTE trials. Smith said the second phase of the trial (beginning later this year) will be closer to the Sydney CBD and is expected to cover a broader area.
"It not only aims just to test more of how LTE will perform, but how it will work with the other layers. How it will work between LTE and 3G in particular, how calls will handover between those networks," he said. "And when we choose to put LTE into service, what are the key things we need to understand around the engineering of this technology."
Telstra and Huawei successfully trialled LTE on the 1800MHz spectrum earlier this month.
As well as pushing LTE technology, Optus said at the demonstration today that it is working on fixing the current 3G network problems that have been plaguing its customers.
Optus announced yesterday that it had successfully purchased regional spectrum licences between 5MHz and 10MHz in the 2100MHz spectrum from Qualcomm-owned company 3G Investments Australia Pty Ltd.