Optus pushes into smart homes through flagship store launch

Optus has launched the first of five new flagship stores designed to showcase its smart home offerings, including Google Home, Fetch TV, and connected kitchen appliances.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Optus' smart lounge room

(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Optus has marked a greater push into the consumer smart home business with the launch of the first of five "experiential" flagship stores aimed at making it simpler for customers to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in their homes.

The store, officially opened in Sydney on Friday by CEO Allen Lew, showcases a kitchen, lounge room, and entryway fitted out with smart home technology including door locks, doorbells, frying pans, scales, lighting, power points, fridges, and cameras, with SoftBank's Pepper robot greeting customers as they enter the store.

The lounge room contains 16 4K TVs which feature 40 different scenarios demonstrating how to use capabilities including Optus' Fetch TV integrated with its associated app, with English Premier League and National Geographic content, and with Google Home.

Optus told ZDNet it would continue bringing in new technology and products as they're made available, and focus on teaching customers how to use them.

Opened in time for the launch of the new iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus, the store has the usual area for displaying phones, tablets, headphones, and VR headsets, and will be adding a small business product suite at a later date.

The store also features Optus' 4.5G network, which has seen it attain mobile speeds of around 416/30Mbps on average, or 328/32Mbps during busy periods in the store.


Optus CEO Allen Lew opening the new store

(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Optus told ZDNet that trials are currently under way of its 4.5G network in Macquarie Park, which was launched at the telco's headquarters in February, with an evaluation of the service set to take place by the end of 2017 and a rollout across Australian capital cities expected by the end of next year.

Optus' 4.5G network uses a combination of 4CC/5CC carrier aggregation, 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), and 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), ahead of trials using MIMO 128T128R.

According to VP of Optus Retail Frances Martin, the new flagship store is also part of Optus' transition into a multimedia company.

"Consumers rely on their smartphones to make their life easier, from using GPS navigation to using apps for banking, shopping, accessing live sport and entertainment, and staying in touch with family and friends," Martin said on Friday.

"The connected home is an extension of this, which over time will allow users to connect to their home base to open garage doors, answer doorbells remotely, and turn on home heating, all from their smart device."

Telstra similarly added Google Home to its own smart home offerings in July, allowing customers to control lighting via the product's voice command at a cost of AU$124 per month.

The Telstra package can be purchased for AU$3,065, with a two-year contract that includes 1TB of data, a Telstra TV, one smart home starter kit, a smart plug, and a Google Home device.

Telstra in November launched its first swathe of Smart Home products and pricing packages, after first showcasing a smart light bulb, a window sensor, a door sensor, wide-beam motion sensors, a smart power plug, the Lockwood smart door lock, a smart thermostat, an outdoor Wi-Fi camera, an indoor Wi-Fi camera, and the Telstra Smart Home hub in June last year.

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