Optus quietly rolls out EDGE on its network

Optus quietly rolls out EDGE on its network

Summary: 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.

TOPICS: Telcos, Optus

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.

Topics: Telcos, Optus


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Typical Optus,

    First to brag, first to bag (their competitors) and last to perform.

    With Pos (Paul O'Sullivan) trying to impress his Singapore masters of his 'wireless data' consumer growth strategy, the network is under siege from wholesale 'prostituting' itself to low end grade mobile providers leaving its own and other customers in dire straights.

    But Pos will have a go at the Big T and bag LTE, only never to look into his back yard, as long as the Singapore lapdog makes target and gets his bonus.
  • Not correct. EDGE is actually a LOT faster than 2G, potentially.

    2G GSM data runs data at about 12kbits/second. GPRS (2.5G) extended this up to 20kbits/s, at a maximum and in good conditions, and allowed multiple timeslots to be allocated to a mobile, so in theory you can get X * 20kbits/s. 4 timeslots is common so you can get about 60 to 80k with GPRS.

    EDGE is an extension to GPRS (often called EGPRS) that pushes the max data rate to 59.2kbits/s per timeslot. That's the "triple the speed". It also added a whole raft of other lower data rates and improvements in the retransmission mechanism.

    Note, you'lll never ever get these sorts of rates unless you're standing right next to the base station.
  • Some engineers from RIM were telling me that the reason why BlackBerry stayed 2G for so long is actually because EDGE has MUCH better latency than WCDMA 3G.

    Lower throughput, yes, but latency is actually what makes or breaks the responsiveness of mobile phones, where a lot of back and forth acknowledgements have to happen to complete a task.

    I've used T-Mobile's EDGE with an iPhone in the USA and it is faster than AT&T's horrendous 3G network. Given how awful the Optus 3G network is, I actually wouldn't be surprised if EDGE felt snappier. (Optus 2G wasn't too bad... it was a few years after making the move to 3G with them that I really decided I had to part ways as a customer...!)
  • This article only appeared in my inbox today despite having been posted 5 days ago...

    Yep, noticed the new "E" symbol on my iPhone earlier this week and quickly did a search to see what it meant.

    Optus might have considered advising customers this was going to happen. I'm sure less tech savvy users might have panicked when seeing the new symbol on thier phone.
    Scott W-ef9ad
  • Optus is really not smart with this. As you say their 3G is shocking and the only reason my company stays with them is cost difference. Then again their SW with their mobile broadband is a shocker - they simply cannot supply a modem that works completely with MacOS or Windows without the user having to call Optus for tech help. They always know exactly what the prob is - why not just fix it. Or is it a Huawei problem? Telstra can do it with their modems.