At present there are 12 active base stations offering non-contiguous coverage in eight suburbs. The E23276 v2 Premium Modem will be available in Canberra from early June and the E5776 WiFi Modem from Optus stores throughout Australia in early June. No pricing for the devices or the service has been given. Today's announcement was strictly about the network. Optus said a commercial announcement would be made "in a few weeks".
Günther Ottendorfer, managing director of Optus Networks, said the move followed growing confidence that there would be adequate supply of TD-LTE devices: "Last year we were not sure how the ecosystem would develop but we were quite confident that we would see good development.
"Now, we are really confident that the TD LTE ecosystem has developed to the point where it is ready to launch services that is why we started in Canberra." (Where Optus is unable to offer FD-LTE services because it does not have any 1800MHz spectrum).
"We will roll out that further base stations of the next few months. We have two sites here in Sydney where we can play with TD-LTE and FD-LTE working together."
He added: "We have a theoretical limit of 70Mbps because we use one timeslot for the vividwireless network and we have seen speeds of 61Mbps and we tested it with the full bandwidth we have seen 190Mbps."
Ottendorfer said Optus had not yet made a decision on its long-term TD-LTE network equipment supplier. Nor would the company give any indication of future TD-LTE rollout plans. Andrew Smith, Optus VP of mobile radio engineering, said that Optus expected to have 70 percent of the metro area population served by either TD-LTE or FD-LTE by mid 2014. He said that Optus presently had 700 LTE base stations in operation.
Nor will it say when it plans to introduce voice services. "The handset story and the ecosystem story is developing well but we don't have a date we can give you yet," Smith said.
Optus had also progressed its 3G+ project of upgrading its 3G network from 2100MHz to 900MHz operation. "We have upgraded 4000 sites across the country and we now reach 98 percent of the population," Smith said. "We will rollout 1000 base stations over the next 12 months to extend the 3G+ story specifically to Adelaide, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Canberra. They are the only markets that don't presently have 3G+ and that will take us up to 95 percent in-building metropolitan area coverage."
Smith added: "There is a lot of focus on festivals and special events around Australia and we know people want to use their mobiles to upload photos se we have a lot of upgrades around Australia. The Gold Coast, The ANZ Stadium, the ski fields, and other holiday destinations like Margaret River."
• Ottendorfer also gave some insight into his decision, announced in April to leave Optus in July to become CTO of Telekom Austria. https://itwire.com/it-people-news/people/59347 "I've been very happy with what I have been doing here," he said. "It is a very personal decision. I have been out of my home country, Austria, for seven years now. My two eldest daughters are teenagers and they wanted to go home. So we took the decision as a family to go home."