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Optus preps for Christmas network spike

Optus is rolling out network upgrades to holiday hotspots as it prepares for the onslaught of Christmas cheer.

Optus is rolling out network upgrades to holiday hotspots as it prepares for the onslaught of Christmas cheer.

Christmas every year becomes one of the heaviest days for mobile network traffic, and this year looks to be no different. Optus predicts that its customers will send around 65 million text messages on Christmas Day alone, which managing director of networks Günther Ottendorfer told ZDNet Australia would be an all-time high. In addition to this, there will be 34 million calls, and over four million minutes spent on international phone calls, the most popularly called countries being the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Vietnam.

In September, Optus commenced upgrades of its 3G network, coinciding with its intention to launch long-term evolution (LTE) services in April next year. Since then, Ottendorfer said that Optus had rolled out 450 new mobile base stations but in the lead up to the holiday season, the company had focused upgrade on areas where it was expected to have more demand on Christmas day.

"They [use their phones] in different places than normal. We have done a lot of capacity upgrades, mainly in the last weeks, in places like Byron Bay, Port Douglas, Port Stephens, Surfer's Paradise [and] Victor Harbour."

Ottendorfer said that the company has used historical data to forecast where those demands will be, and to ensure that the network has extra capacity in those places.

Although the company has been rolling out upgrades of its HSPA+ network in the 900MHz spectrum, Ottendorfer said that he didn't think demand for mobile broadband would be higher than normal, with most customers sticking to their smartphones.

On the big day, Optus will have 100 crew members working on a rotating roster to ensure that the network copes with the demand, but he said that the company is planning a "big lunch" to reward the crew.


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