Optus has begun quietly rolling out improvements to its network technology in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne to improve internet and email access for mobile customers unable to receive full 3G network coverage.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution, EDGE or Enhanced GPRS is commonly referred to as 2.5G, and although it is not quite up to the standard of 3G services, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recognises EDGE as 3G. EDGE is technically part of the GSM family; however, due to its method of transmitting data, it has up to triple the data rate of 2G services. While this doesn't mean that it has as good latency as 3G coverage, it is a vast improvement over the standard 2G services.
Optus told ZDNet Australia that the improvements, which see customers shifted to EDGE when 3G is not available, had occurred at a number of the newer base stations in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne over the past few weeks with no upgrades required. It added, however, that a number of minor upgrades would be made to the telco's older base stations in order to accommodate the EDGE roll-out.
iPhone customers would have noticed this change in recent weeks, seeing an "E" appear in their coverage indicator instead of the usual 3G, or circle for 2G coverage.
It is understood that when the telco launches 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, it intends the lowest data coverage that a customer can expect to be EDGE instead of 2G.
Telstra has had EDGE services running on its 2G network since 2006 when the telco migrated customers over from CDMA before it was shut down in 2008. EDGE is available across the entire Telstra network.
Despite the minor network upgrade in preparation for a 4G roll-out, Optus has yet to follow in the footsteps of rivals Telstra and Vodafone in announcing LTE services to go live this year, with CEO Paul O'Sullivan saying last month that the devices that utilise 4G mobile broadband had not matured to a level that Optus would be satisfied in offering as a product.