Optus 4G trial blazes past 70Mbps

news Australia’s number two telco Optus announced late last week that it had successfully completed what it said was the nation’s first 4G mobile broadband trial using 700MHz – a new mobile frequency providing wider coverage and faster speeds as compared to the existing 4G mobile services that used the 1800MHz spectrum.

Optus’ successful trial marked a critical step in delivering competitive 4G mobile services in regional and rural Australia. The 700 megahertz spectrum, commonly known as the digital dividend spectrum, had been made available as a result of the switch-over from analogue to digital television, and was to be auctioned in November 2012.

“Our trial was in Bendigo, regional Victoria over the past few months and I’m pleased to announce today that it has been a success,” said Optus chief executive Paul O’Sullivan. “We achieved peak download speeds of over 70 megabits per second. This wasn’t in the lab – it was in the middle of the Bendigo CBD.”

Optus Managing Director Günther Ottendorfer said the company used everyday scenarios to test the capability of the 700Mhz frequency to deliver 4G services. It tested a variety of Optus services and applications over the network, including smartphone apps, mobile TV services, Internet TV and online gaming. It also installed a High Definition (HD) video conferencing unit on the famous Bendigo tram and conducted HD video calls to staff at Optus’ headquarters in Sydney.

The conclusion was that 4G services using the 700Mhz frequency had the potential to offer a better experience for customers with peak download speeds reaching 70Mbps and upload speeds of 32Mbps.

What’s more, Optus demonstrated that 4G coverage delivered on 700MHz could be achieved over 13km from a single tower compared to the 3-6 km area covered by the existing 4G 1800MHZ spectrum – a significant fact when deploying high-speed mobile services across large distances. The Optus release said that despite mobile services operating alongside TV channels, there were no reports of interference either with local or out-of-area TV services.

Ottendorfer added that since the experiment was successful in Bendigo, Optus was excited by the potential of taking 4G services to more locations as soon as possible, benefiting customers in hitherto unreachable areas.

This new development comes just about a month after Optus bought wireless broadband player Vividwireless in its bid to create a new 4G mobile broadband network across Australia. At that time, Optus had said that the deal would give it access to up to 98Mhz of wireless spectrum in the 2.3GHz band — a band which was already used by “some of the world’s leading operators” to provide 4G services.

It planned to use this spectrum “to build a new 4G network using LTE-TDD technology”. Optus planned to integrate this with its 1800MHz network, which would be launched in Newcastle and the Hunter region of NSW in April 2012, and which would provide increased mobile speeds to their customers in metropolitan Australia.

It all sounds rather nice, but we haven’t yet heard much about when Optus will actually deploy these 4G services. Meanwhile, Telstra has been signing up new customers to its fledgling 4G network — which is actually commercially ready right now in metropolitan CBDs — at a rate of knots. We’ll have some more info on that later this week.

Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay


  1. Good place to test it Bendigo. Not many Optus customers there to compete with for bandwidth. They have shown their 3G coverage cover Bendigo out to Strathfieldsaye. Since my relatives live there that is where I go for Christmas. Optus has 3G coverage for maybe 1km from the city centre and not even GSM in places on the edge like Strathfieldsaye, which is well and truly in their 3G area on the maps. Their coverage is a lie. I will look foward to seeing if things have improved next time I am up there as normally it’s a case of being uncontactable unless I am in the city centre.

  2. So you can get 70mbps when you’re running a trial and there aren’t any other users. Yay. Pity that the problems users are having with mobile networks are due to congestion, not burst speed.

    At least in the city, we need more smaller cells. Covering a 13km radius with a single tower sounds great until you consider all the people in that radius (many thousands, even in a small place like Bendigo) wanting the advertised 70mbps at the same time.

    • That is the problem with all these wireless technologies. They never really offer what they say. Upto 21mbps on 3G? Wouldn’t see that with the contention ratios the telcos have over the airwaves plus the physical limits of them as well.

      Would anyone like to take bets on how long it takes Malcom Turnbull to take this as “Look! Private doing it now! 70 megathingies per sencond!!11!!!!”

    • Great comment.problem is generally not the telcos.its people like u n me in the general public who jump up and down that there speeds are crap etc etc,but when the telco goes to erect additional towers then they jump up and down like a spoilt bunch of babies that they don’t want radiative towers near their houses,schools,places of employment etc etc.unfortunately in a catch 22.trust me mate I would love these problems fixed as I own a dealership in the industry,so it has a larger impact on me than most $$$$$$$$$ :)

  3. The problem with all wirless technologies is capacity, Theres only so much bandwidth you can squeeze into each user. Us bandwidth hungry auzzies will dive to these new systems and flog them till they cant be flogged no more bringing the whole system to its knees again: we are so good at doing it…… Its happening with 3g now in Populated areas, dont matter which telco youre with its just a matter of time before it happens with LTE. Just like a merry go round… we will end in the same predicament again. It may take a while but it will happen.

  4. They should have got 100Mb in that test. The auction will be interesting though because ACMA could pick up several hundred million dollar out 700Mhz range, it could be game changer in Australia.

  5. Anyone that believes that Wireless is the answer, Think again!
    How many users will get 70Mb/s when they are all sharing the same tower?
    Optus are just dangling the carrot in front of the donkey.
    The answer is NBN with lots of wimax links. It’s cheaper to deploy, has far lower contention and is far more reliable!

  6. Tech facts.

    3G technology significantly shrinks it’s coverage per cell as the cell reaches capacity. Hence the nightmare we have with coverage from a 3G perspective.

    4G (LTE) barley moves inward……even at full capacity.

    Top speeds are always theoretical and more often than not controlled by the device being used. Most handsets and 3G usb modems have a top speed of 7.2 mbps not the theoretical top of 20mbps. We are likely to see real speeds of around the 20mbps mark which is equal to the theoretical 3G and fixed line broadband speeds right now. Note that no one actually gets to these speeds out of either 3G or fixed line.

    The higher the frequency the smaller the cell and the less penetration into buildings. If Optus can secure the 700mhz frequency and deploy it into metro as well as regional and rural then we will all see huge improvements.

    As for the number of mobile towers in your area to actually supply your signal…..whoever you’re with……hassle your local council as they are the ones that are stopping more towers going in to improve your coverage.

  7. I have hit 69.5Mb/s 3km from Perth CBD and where I live I easily get 50-68 Mb/s consistently on the Telstra 4G network with ease. Its so fast I barely use my ADSL except where I need large downloads, I’m always on the Telstra LTE modem.

  8. Um don’t hold your breath, optus execs have said that the purchased spectrum cannot be used till sometime in 2015, because the anologue tv network has to be killed first to free it up. Annoyed me when I bought my iPad 3…

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