Optus makes 5G Home fixed wireless generally available

Users on NBN-alternative network to gain access to 4K streaming beginning with 2020 football championships and leagues.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Optus is allowing the 138,000 homes in its 5G footprint to order a fixed wireless service, both online and in store, from today.

Previously, the telco called for expressions of interest from customers to be connected to the service. Optus added it now had "over 200" customers connected to the service.

The Optus 5G Home service kicked off at the start of the year, with customers paying AU$70 per month for unlimited data at a 50Mbps minimum speed guarantee.

Speaking on Monday, Optus CEO Allen Lew said the service is so far delivering close to half a gigabit peak speeds.

"The reality today in Australia, is that there are large numbers of homes that want faster broadband, despite the National Broadband Network," he said.

Lew said that setting up the service was a "plug and play" with lights on the modem, allowing users to position it inside their home for better performance.

"No need to take a day off to wait for a truck role," Lew said in another swipe at NBN.

Despite having a policy that will see the telco not add customers to congested towers, Optus told ZDNet that it would be "quite a long time" before it reaches that point.

"The technology will change, for example the data layers right now, we're talking about four to eight layers, as we all know, the world is 16 data layers," Optus managing director of networks Dennis Wong told ZDNet.

"So without changing the infrastructure, the capacity will grow. We have capacity, we have spectrum."

Wong added that the telco still had to introduce beam forming.

The telco is expected to shift to standalone 5G in 2021, and reiterated on Monday that it expects to have 1,200 5G sites by March 2020. 

Customers seeking only to have a 5G mobile service through Optus can already purchase services.

The telco also announced on Monday it would exclusively provide its 5G customers with 4K streaming from June 2020, which will include Euro 2020 championship, 2020/21 UEFA Champions League, as well as 2020/21 English Premier League content.

Optus added it is "working closely" with Amazon, Netflix, Stan, and other streaming platforms to use 4K content "optimised" for its network.

Optus is using both Ericsson and Nokia to build out its 5G network.


Optus CEO Allen Lew

Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

Last week, the National Broadband Network (NBN) announced it had restructured to move its fixed wireless and satellite businesses into a single unit.

NBN noted the new unit was a recommendation in the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, which had also called on NBN to allow and contribute to co-investment for area-switch technology choice upgrades.

At the same time, NBN announced it had also switched on business satellite services, which the company said was aimed at medium and large businesses, as well as government users.

In September, Optus launched an NBN concierge service to provide a single point of contact as users moved off legacy broadband services.

Lew said at the time that the telco was standing up the service to help customers that are confused by having sub-contractors, NBN, and retailers in the mix, as well as to help customers chase answers and deal with a process that lacks visibility.

"For every customer that is moving from the existing legacy fixed line network, we will assign an individual customer care agent to be that one single point of interface between the customer and ourselves, and we will take NBN out of this equation so there is one less person to deal with," Lew said.

"We will also extend this to 30 days from the installation of the NBN service, so that customers know that somebody is sitting, looking at their respective broadband service to make sure it is delivering the speeds that we have communicated." 

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