by George Nott

Optus rolls out 4.5G network in Sydney

Feb 22, 2017
Telecommunications Industry

More than 70 per cent of Optus’ network will be 4.5G enabled within the next 12 months, the company said today.

This morning the telco switched on 4.5G network services across the Macquarie Park business district, in Sydney, home of Optus’ headquarters.

The wider city of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide will gain access to the network over the next year.

Mobile devices that are 4.5G ready are not yet commercially available, however, Optus said they expected that situation to change over the coming year.

“4.5G is a key area of investment for our network evolution towards 5G. It is an important enabler for 5G and we are excited to be able to deliver this new initiative to our customers at Macquarie Park,” said Dennis Wong, managing director of networks at Optus at a launch event this morning.

“One of the largest business districts in Sydney and home to our Sydney headquarters, we chose Macquarie Park as it offers a wide range of infrastructure: a university, shopping centre, transport hubs and a strong cross section of residential and business customers across 10 square kilometres. The precinct is Sydney’s technology hub and it is this diversity that will ensure we’re able to see how the network performs in a wide variety of scenarios.”

Nothin’ but a G thang

4.5G, or LTE-Advanced Pro, is an improvement on 4G which uses the wireless spectrum more efficiently resulting in an improved data rate and user experience. Tests ran at the Optus campus yesterday achieved throughput speeds of 1.03Gbps by utilising 4.5G technologies: 4CC/5CC Carrier Aggregation, 4x4MIMO (base station antenna technology) and 256QAM, the company said.

Customers in 4.5G networked areas would immediately benefit from a better experience during periods of high usage as a result of larger network capacity, Optus added.

Optus’ planned infrastructure upgrades follows those done by Telstra since 2015, who modified more than 2000 network sites to support 700MHz (which Telstra markets as ‘4GX’).

Earlier this month Telstra, in partnership with Netgear, Qualcomm and Ericsson, demonstrated its new network router which boasts downloads speeds of up to 1Gpbs over a 4G network.

Optus said its 4.5G network “laid the foundation” for the “evolution” towards 5G. It will be trialing base station technology, the “massive” MIMO 128T128R in coming months.

“Ultimately, the launch is a step closer to Optus being able to deliver 5G network speeds to customers and will continue to invest in RD and our partnership with Huawei to achieve this,” said Wong.

The continued development of 4.5G technology, leverages on the Memorandum of Understanding on joint RD that Optus’ parent telco Singtel signed with Huawei in 2014. Optus also signed an MoU with Nokia to collaborate on research in 5G technologies.