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Optus partners with Uber for in-car 4G Plus Wi-Fi

Optus and Uber have partnered up to offer drivers and customers 4G Wi-Fi inside of Uber vehicles.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Optus and Uber have announced a partnership that will see the ridesharing company trial in-car Wi-Fi leveraging Optus' 4G Plus network, with Uber also to be used by Optus employees for business-related travel.

The in-car 4G Wi-Fi will initially be trialled across 100 vehicles in Sydney and Melbourne, with 10 smart devices able to connect at once.

According to Steve Long, director of Local Markets at Optus, the telecommunications provider wanted to partner with another innovative company.

"Uber has fundamentally changed the way we think about getting from point A to point B, and for us this is an opportunity to create a truly connected experience for drivers and riders by using our super-fast 4G Plus network," Long said.

"Recognising that online access is a critical component of the Uber experience, we are offering exclusive offers to both drivers and passengers to access the fast and reliable Optus network while they are in transit."

Optus will also provide an as yet undisclosed "exclusive offer" for Uber drivers.

"We're thrilled to be partnering with Optus to open up the benefits of our platforms to more Australians," Brent Annells, head of Business ANZ at Uber, said.

"Optus has truly embraced the benefits of ridesharing today by enabling their employees to access safe and reliable rides at the touch of a button, while Optus' deal for driver-partners will help make Uber the best and most efficient platform for partners to earn a flexible income."

Uber was legalised in the Australian Capital Territory in September and New South Wales in December after a years-long legal slog involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, cease-and-desist notices, and threats of litigation after launching in Australia.

Ahead of its deal with Uber, Optus has been focusing on improving its 4G network; during its quarterly results presentation last month, Optus CEO Allen Lew attributed the company's plummeting cash flow to continuing investment in the network.

"In the coming quarter, Optus will continue to strengthen and extend the reach of its 4G Plus network as it increases deployment across its 700MHz and 2600MHz spectrum holdings," Lew said.

"Following its recent acquisition of regional 1800MHz spectrum, Optus now has more spectrum assets to expand its network and improve its 4G coverage for more Australians."

Optus had purchased AU$196 million worth of 1800MHz spectrum to bring its 4G coverage to more areas.

"When combined with our existing assets, this additional spectrum allows Optus to support Australia's growing demand for data services in regional Australia," Lew said in February.

"Giving more retail and business customers access to super-fast 4G in more places underpins our strategy to be a mobile-led entertainment company. The use of common frequencies between metropolitan and regional areas will help reduce dead zones across urban and rural boundaries, and give customers a seamless 4G experience when they're on the go."

Optus' total 4G customers numbered 4.45 million as of the end of December 2015, with a 47 percent penetration rate.

In addition to improving its 4G network, Optus chairman Paul O'Sullivan said the telco is attempting to reposition as a "multimedia company" following its acquisition of the exclusive Australian broadcast rights to the English Premier League for the next three seasons.

Optus additionally announced a 10-year deal in December to become the "official telecommunications partner" for the Australian Olympic team, and also provides unmetered access to Netflix and Stan.

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