Optus launches '4G Plus' multiband network

Optus has expanded the rollout of its TD-LTE 4G network, taking the service to Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide ahead of the launch of the new TD-LTE compatible iPhones.

Optus is taking the 4G fight to Telstra, expanding its time-division duplex long-term Evolution (TD-LTE) 2300MHz 4G network to four new cities today, ahead of a plan to get its network out to 70 percent of the metropolitan population by mid-2014.

Image: Optus

Optus today announced that it had switched on the TD-LTE 4G network designed to complement its existing 1800MHz frequency-division duplex (FDD) LTE network in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide. The first TD-LTE network for Optus launched in Canberra earlier this year .

The network is now live to 55 sites, including an additional 14 in Canberra, 22 in Melbourne, six in Sydney, 11 in Brisbane, and two in Adelaide, all coming online today.

Optus' vice president of regulatory and corporate affairs David Epstein told ZDNet that the company would now focus on rolling out the two 4G networks at once.

"[In the] combined 4G rollout, we hope to cover 70 percent of the metropolitan population by between March and June next year," he said.

"We're putting our focus on areas of high demand or where you get peaking. That's why we're down in the Olympic Park area, and in time for Melbourne Cup, we're going to be out in Flemington, too."

Epstein said that the TD-LTE network was designed so that users would now get a consistent data experience on the 4G network, and in areas where there are surges in traffic, or peak data.

The release of dual-band 4G-compatible devices, including the new iPhones 5S and 5C , as well as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S4 Mini , will no doubt go a long way toward helping Optus drive uptake on its new network, and Epstein said that more devices are likely to be on the way now that China Mobile and Softbank in Japan are launching multiband networks.

"Particularly with Softbank and China Mobile getting in the game in addition to the Indians, we're very confident of the prospects for multiband handsets and the user experience will be good," he said.

"When you aggregate all the spectrum we currently hold and we're about to hold, we'll probably have one of the more sophisticated multiband strategies around the world."

As of the end of June, Optus reported that it had now sold 1.08 million 4G handsets .

Telstra has publicly stated that it aims to have its 4G network reach out to 85 percent of the entire Australian population by the end of 2013. Vodafone has so far not made any pronouncements about the network reach of its 4G network yet, focusing on metropolitan areas and regional centres.