Ericsson to build 50 Optus 5G sites

Optus has revealed that in addition to Nokia, it is also working with Ericsson across its 5G launches.

Following last week's initial 5G launch with Nokia, Optus has announced that 50 new mobile network sites across Sydney and Melbourne will be switched on using technology from rival networking company Ericsson over the next few months.

The news comes as Optus switches on its second 5G tower in Kellyville, Sydney, on Monday using Ericsson 5G RAN equipment on Optus' 3.5GHz spectrum.

"Our multi-vendor approach to Optus 5G will help to deliver a more dynamic and innovative 5G network for the benefit of our customers," Optus Networks MD Dennis Wong said.

"We are working closely with Ericsson to conduct critical interoperability device testing so that we can deliver a compatible 5G home broadband product to customers and open this site up as part of our expressions of interest campaign."

Optus last week launched its fixed-wireless 5G Home Broadband network across two suburbs in Canberra and one tower in Sydney, announcing that 50 sites will be online by March to provide coverage to 60 suburbs.

Optus plans to have 1,200 5G mobile sites live by March 2020 across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia.

5G Home Broadband on Optus will cost AU$70 per month for unlimited data at a 50Mbps minimum speed guarantee, and is slated to provide connectivity by the second quarter of 2019.

For the first three sites, Optus used Nokia's 5G RAN and Fastmile 5G customer premises equipment (CPE).

At the time, Optus CEO Allen Lew said the company will be taking a "multi-vendor approach" to its network. In an interview with ZDNet, Lew also denied that the Huawei 5G ban had an impact on the rollout, saying that it neither slowed it down nor made equipment more expensive.

"At Optus, we've always had a multi-vendor strategy, and secondly Optus is part of a bigger group called the Singtel Group. Having a multi-vendor strategy allows us not to just rely on one vendor; we have a lot of different vendors, and we put them to a competitive bid," Lew said.

"We've as a result put them to a competitive bid and been able to get the pricing that we need in order to offer this service at what we call exceptional value for Australians, and yet make a reasonable margin so that our shareholders feel Optus can get a reasonable return on the business."

According to Lew, Optus had a target price, and was able to achieve that thanks to competition amongst the remaining vendors. Optus has yet to reveal whether it's also working with the only remaining major vendor Samsung in addition to Nokia and Ericsson.

On the smartphone side, Lew told ZDNet that Optus is working with all smartphone manufacturers, and expects to see 5G phones in the May/June window.

Optus customers in select areas can take part in an expressions of interest campaign to become the telco's first 5G customers. The network is already live in Dickson and Manuka, ACT, ahead of launching by March in Russell, Campbell, Weetangera, Mitchell, Franklin, Harrison, and Wanniassa.

In NSW, 22 sites will be live by March: Bidwell, Warwick Farm, St Johns Park, Bonnyrigg, Tascott, Niagara Park, Springfield, Yattalunga, Woy Woy Bay, Phegans Bay, Koolewong, Daleys Point, St Huberts Island, Richmond Lowlands, Shalvey, Lethbridge Park, Blackett, Emerton, Dharruk, Minchinbury, and Tregear, as well as Glendenning where it is already live.

By March, there will be 13 sites live in Queensland across Clayfield, Newmarket, Auchenflower, Kenmore, Kenmore Hills, Macgregor, Camira, Goodna, Brookwater, Bellbird Park, Gailes, Kallangur, and Burpengary.

There will also be 13 5G sites live in Western Australia: Mosman Park, City Beach, Kiara, Lockridge, Eden Hill, South Guildford, Bellevue, Midland, Orange Grove, White Gum Valley, Hilton, Henderson, and Wattleup.

Lastly, South Australia will see three sites go live by March in Trott Park, Reynella East, and Old Reynella.

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