Australia's second-largest mobile telecommunications provider Optus has today launched its 4G long-term evolution (LTE) consumer services in Sydney, Newcastle, and Perth.
Just over a month after launching business plans in Sydney, Newcastle, and Perth, the company has today launched services for consumers, and will switch on services in Melbourne on September 15.
The company has so far installed LTE equipment operating in the 1800MHz spectrum band at 600 base stations across the country. The Sydney 4G network covers approximately 10km of the CBD, ranging from Lindfield in the north to Botany Bay in the south. The Perth coverage is 20km from east to west of the Perth CBD, and 15km from north to south. Full coverage maps can be found here.
Coinciding with the consumer launch, Optus' first 4G smartphone on offer will be the Samsung Galaxy S III, available on a 24-month plan for either AU$67 per month (with AU$650 worth of calls and SMS and 1.5GB of data), or AU$80 per month (with AU$850 worth of calls and SMS and 2GB of data). The device comes pre-loaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display, a quad-core processor, an 8 megapixel (MP) camera, and a 1.9MP front-facing camera.
In addition to the existing USB modem and Wi-Fi hotspot, Optus consumer CEO Kevin Russell said that customers have a variety of choices for 4G devices.
"With a great lineup of 4G devices now on offer, Australians now have a choice in competitive 4G products and services," Russell said in a statement.
Not to be outdone, Telstra has also announced that it will have the Samsung Galaxy S III 4G smartphone in October, with the company boasting that it has the bigger 4G network.
"Our customers have been hanging out for the arrival of the Galaxy S III 4G, and we're thrilled to be able to offer it on Australia's only national 4G-enabled network," Andrew Volard, Telstra's director of mobile, said in a statement.
While Optus has so far delivered out its 4G network to less of the country as a whole, the company does have a larger footprint in the major cities. Telstra has only extended its 4G network out to a 5km radius of the Sydney CBD, while Optus boasts that its network goes out 10km. Telstra has announced plans to extend this to 15km by June 2013.
Optus' head of regulatory affairs David Epstein told ZDNet that the company's approach to the 4G rollout was to ensure that Optus got it right.
"Our focus is making sure we deliver the network experience we want to deliver correctly the first time. We don't want to be in a situation where we rush out and launch something and find we've got a network under strain," he said.
"That's happened with other carriers, and that's not a place Optus wants to be."
Australia's third mobile carrier Vodafone will not launch a 4G network until 2013, with the company focusing on making improvements to its existing 3G network and implementing "3G Plus" or HSPA+ upgrades into its network.
Updated at 3:14pm, 4 September 2012: added comment from David Epstein.