Optus has today switched on its long-term evolution (LTE) "4G" network for 1000 customers in Newcastle and the Hunter region.
Optus' 4G coverage in Newcastle.
The business and residential customers, residing in greater Newcastle, Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie areas, will receive the services for free. In return, they have to provide network performance feedback.
The trial precedes the telco's capital city roll-out, where the network will be implemented in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from halfway through this year. Brisbane and Adelaide will have to wait until the first half of next year.
At this point, customers are being allocated Optus 4G wireless dongles, with business customers also receiving mobile Wi-Fi adapters. Optus said that it expects handsets to become available over the next few months.
Telstra also announced the expansion of its 4G network in the Hunter region this week, following a roll-out in capital cities and regional centres, which went live in September last year. Telstra was the first telco to boast a commercial 4G network, with Optus only announcing in the same month that it would roll out the new technology, and Vodafone saying that it wanted to focus on upgrading to HSPA+ before thinking about LTE.
"Today marks the first step towards Australians having a choice for 4G services so they can connect and interact in new ways. By working with our customers to gather their feedback, Optus aims to continually enhance its 4G network, and ensure that customers have an outstanding experience now and into the future," Günther Ottendorfer, Optus managing director networks said in a statement.