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Wednesday, 07 May 2008 05:12

Optus spends up big to challenge Next G

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Optus is to spend $315 million to expand its 3G/HSPA mobile coverage to 98 percent of the population: a figure which should give it a very close match to Telstra's Next G network.
Optus is already upgrading its existing 2G network, claimed to cover 96 percent of the population, to 3G/HSPA but the new funding will take Optus coverage to areas of Australia where even its 2G network is not presently available. Optus says it will complete the planned expansion by December 2009.

Optus says that  at least 750 new base stations will be added, extending its  mobile network coverage by 400,000 square kilometres to a total network coverage of more than one million square kilometres and extending the footprint to reach areas including Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia and Tumby in South Australia, through to Weipa in Far North Queensland. Optus will use the  900MHz spectrum band which should give base station range similar to that achieved by Telstra's 850MHz Next G network.

“Optus’ 3G mobile network is currently being upgraded to deliver broadband speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. We have plans in place to increase to speeds of up to 28 Mbps from late 2009. In addition, Optus will also work with its strategic partners to make the network capable of up to 42 Mbps by mid 2010,” Optus CEO Paul O’Sullivan said.

Shortly after it announced its earlier plans to upgrade to 3G/HSPA for 96 percent coverage, Optus offered to expand it to 98 percent if the government would match the investment cost dollar for dollar.  Subsequently, Optus won and lost the $1 billion Opel funding for a WiMAX network. However, if the claims of HSPA vendors such as Ericsson are to be believed the technology is or will be able to deliver bandwidths greater than DSL or WiMAX at similar costs. And for Optus there is the added benefit of having to operate only one homogeneous network technology.

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