After extensive tests in Newcastle, Optus has today announced that its 4G network will go live across Sydney and Perth, and promised 4G in Melbourne once the telco's spectrum refarming operations involved in the creation of a new 3G Plus network are complete.
The Optus 4G network is available from today for small-to-medium business and corporate customers only, with consumer plans set to roll-out "shortly" according to the carrier.
Business customers can pick up a 4G data card or a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot from today with an offer of 10GB per month plan for $40 per month (full pricing coming shortly). Optus have assured that it won't be charging a premium for its 4G network at the moment.
4G coverage in Sydney and Perth spans a 20km radius around the CBDs, while Melbourne's network — when it becomes available — will span 30 kilometres east-to-west and 16 kilometres north-to-south.
Why no Melbourne right now? Optus says that it needs to complete its 2G refarming operations for the creation of the enhanced 3G Plus network before it activates 4G in Victoria. Melbourne's 4G network is ready to go as soon as the refarming to 3G Plus is complete. That goes for all capital cities too. Brisbane's refarming operations are set to go through to the end of the year and Adelaide is scheduled to be completed by next year.
It's also worth noting that Optus' agreement with Vodafone is related to site access (infrustructure), not the network itself.
Here's the coverage map for Sydney:
And the coverage map for Perth:
We're not sure yet about 4G handsets set for release, or if Optus' MVNOs — like Virgin and iiNet — will get access to the telco's 4G or 3G Plus networks just yet. We'll find that out when Optus has its 4G consumer release in the next few months.
As for existing 4G phones: provided that it's an 1800MHz network compatible handset and unlocked, it should work with Optus.
Next? 4G TD-LTE Goes 220Mbps
Optus is also beta testing a new 4G TD-LTE network in St Marys, Sydney, that is capable of speeds around 220Mbps over the air. Gunther Ottendorfer, Optus' managing director of Networks told journalists today that the closed trial network, which opened last week, will be tested for capacity, speed, coverage and throughput for things like media streaming and data operations.
That TD-LTE network is the direct result of Optus' acquisition of vividwireless last year. Optus doesn't know what the TD-LTE network is for just yet. The telco says that it may even use it as a high-speed, data-only network to compliment its existing 4G LTE service.
Giz is at the Optus event; stay tuned for more details as we get them.