Optus has followed network partner Vodafone in announcing it plans to switch on HSPA coverage across Australia by the end of next year -- some 18 months earlier than planned.
The telco said today that it will be switching on the HSPA network in some areas, including Newcastle and Wollongong, from today with a full rollout planned by October 2008. Once the deployment is complete, the 3G network will cover 96 percent of the Australian population, replicating Optus's 2G footprint.
Users can expect a theoretical maximum downlink of 3.6 Mbps following the upgrade, Optus said.
Optus's announcement comes hot on the heels of a similar commitment by rival and partner Vodafone which will see the operator take its HSPA network to 95 percent of Australia by Christmas 2008.
Paralleling Vodafone's announcement earlier this week, Optus confirmed it will be using the 900Mhz and 2100Mhz spectrum bands for its 3G deployment.
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The choice to use the 900Mhz band as well as 2100Mhz will cut potential rollout costs by one third: a network using the two bands will cost up to $500 million, Optus said, compared to up to $800 million for one based exclusively on 2100Mhz.
Meanwhile, Optus said it will maintain the network sharing agreement it currently has in place with Vodafone, which currently sees the pair jointly using a 2100Mhz network in metropolitan Australia.
The company has picked Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks to rollout the necessary network infrastructure: the two companies, along with Ericsson, are also in the running to build Vodafone's network.