Optus set for new content partnerships amid 4G growth

Optus CEO Allen Lew has revealed that the company is working to partner with new content and service providers in the wake of Vodafone Australia's agreement with music-streaming service Spotify.

Last month, Vodafone Australia announced that it had partnered with music-streaming platform Spotify. Now, rival telco Otpus is moving to make similar deals with content and service providers, according to CEO Allen Lew.

Lew has revealed that the SingTel subsidiary was expecting to announce new partnerships with content providers as well as application and service providers "shortly", but also cautioned that any such partnerships would not only have to be regionally relevant to Australians, but also benefit both Optus and its customer base.

"Yes, we are working on partnerships," Lew said. "You'll hear Optus announcing imminently some interesting partnerships in the content space, as well as in applications and services. We'll be announcing something pretty interesting very shortly.

"For us, it's important to make sure the partnership is one that has value that accrues to Optus as well. In the digital area, it's all about partnerships. The key is: Where does the value equation lie in the partnership? Is it valid, and what do we get out of it as a result?

"When we look at partnerships, we have to make sure that we benefit from it. And, at the end of the day, the partner is also someone that has a service or content that is meaningful and engaging to our customers," he said.

Lew said that not only would the content provided by the yet-to-be-announced partnerships be Australian focused; its selection and incorporation would also be heavily informed by the experiences of parent company SingTel.

"Partnerships from some of the content or service providers will have to be very, very local," he said. "Meaning they will have to have information about what’s happening, particularly in Australia, and also within the cities and towns that we are focused on with this service.

"And, most importantly, it also has to be something that you can get on the mobile that you are not also getting on some other media. It should be something that supplements what you're watching on TV today, or something different from what you can already get on TV," he said.

The announcement comes as Optus works to roll out its 4G network across the country, with the company also revealing today that it plans to expand its national 4G network to 90 percent of the population by April 2015.

Parent company SingTel released its second-quarter financial results today, revealing that Optus had seen its 4G customers rise to 2.75 million from 2.43 million the previous quarter, with data revenues rising by 7 percent.

While Optus is working to ramp up its wireless network, the company has been working on discussions with NBN Co to work out how its existing hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network will be used to support the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Optus vice president of corporate affairs and regulatory affairs David Epstein remained tight-lipped as to how the discussions are progressing, saying only that Optus is in "a comfortable position".

However, NBN Co today released details about how the existing Optus and Telstra HFC infrastructure would be incorporated into the NBN rollout.

According to NBN Co's principles for the government-backed multi-technology rollout, Australians already served by the Optus or Telstra HFC infrastructure will receive fast broadband over an upgraded HFC network.

Meanwhile, areas where the fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network has been deployed or is at an advanced stage of deployment will remain part of the FttP rollout.

While fibre to the node has become the default NBN deployment, according to the plan, NBN Co said that it would work with small communities that choose to co-fund FttP if they are in an alternative technology area.