The launch came after a successful pilot in Canberra of a combined TD-LTE and FD-LTE network, which Optus says will give it very high data speeds. All three of Australia’s major mobile carriers are now claiming some sort of 4G advantage.
Optus’s so-called ‘4G Plus’ network operates on two spectrums – TD in the 2300 MHz band and FD in the 1800 MHz band. FD (frequency division), also used by Telstra and Vodafone, uses two separate frequency channels, one for data travelling in each direction. TD (Time Division) exclusive to Optus, uploads and downloads of data on the same frequency, but at different times. Both have advantages and disadvantages, with Optus saying it is getting the best of both worlds.
Optus is this correct in saying that it is “the only mobile provider to operate 4G from two high capacity network technologies.” It will also be available to Optus resellers like Virgin Mobile. Optus had acquired the 2300MHZ spectrum from previous owner Vivid Wireless. Telstra is claiming the widest coverage, and Vodafone fastest speed in Sydney and Melbourne because it has more FD bandwidth in those cities.
The new Optus 4G network was turned on Friday morning at Melbourne’s National Tennis Centre by Victorian Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips. Former tennis start Todd Woodbridge also got in on the action. Rich- Phillips told iTWire the state government strongly supported the extra capacity from Optus.
“Over the past couple of years we've been strongly advocating for more capacity in Victoria, the focus has all been on the NBN at the expense of mobile telephony and mobile data,” he said. “We're really pleased to see this investment from Optus and hopefully it leads to further investment from the mobile telcos in Victoria, in capacity and bandwidth.”
Optus said its new '4G Plus' swill be available immediately in areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide after the successful pilot in Canberra, which saw Optus road test the TD and FD technologies with 4G modems.
David Epstein, of Optus corporate affairs described the expansion as a “couple of extra lanes on the superhighway” and said the network is about “adding extra capacity, particularly at peak times, when you have a lot of people wanting to use a lot of data.
“This is very much about future proofing,” he told iTWire. “Once people have experienced the speeds of 4G, their data usage increases dramatically, and that's only going to continue.
“The debate in Australia has traditionally just been about speed and geographic coverage, but the debate has now become more sophisticated. It's now about consistency and capability, and that's what this does.
“In early 2015 we'll have an additional 700 MHz band, so I think we'll have the most complex multi-banding in the world for this sort of stuff.”
Current phones compatible with TD-LTE include the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S4 Mini, and the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Optus also sells a 4G dongle for mobile devices.