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Optus fires first salvo in Australia’s 5G roll-out

Australia’s second biggest telco, Optus, has flipped the switch for its 5G fixed wireless broadband service in key cities, with mobile services in the pipeline

Australian telco Optus has launched a 5G fixed wireless broadband service for up to 138,000 homes, following a commercial trial involving more than 200 residential customers.

The service will be available at 290 sites in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and other key locations in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Optus is planning a further 1,200 sites by March 2020, it said in a statement today.

Optus CEO Allen Lew said the commercial trial, in which customers paid A$70 a month with guaranteed speeds of 50Mbps, had been a “learning process” for the company, which has adapted to customer insights generated during the trial.

“While it’s early days, our initial 5G service has been wowing customers, who are experiencing a current average speed at peak time of 164Mbps, with the top speed achieved over 5G of 400Mbps at this point in time,” he said.

Optus also plans to offer 5G mobile services through a range of 5G-compatible smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Oppo Reno 5G.

“Australians are known for their passion for technology and there is huge anticipation around 5G,” said Lew. “As we continue to grow our 5G network more and more, customers can expect to spend more time enjoying our lightning-fast 5G service.”

Optus said its 5G network has been optimised for 4K video streaming. From June 2020, it will launch 4K ultra HD live football content on Optus Sport, giving home users access to selected games from Euro 2020, the European Champions League and the English Premier League.

The telco said it is also working closely with video content partners, such as 7plus, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Fetch and Stan, to ensure their 2020 4K content is optimised for its 5G network.

Read more about 5G in Australia

In January 2019, Optus made Australia’s first 5G data call from an Optus 5G site in Dickson, Canberra, using a 5G radio network and customer premises equipment developed with Nokia.

The call was made on the 60MHz band in the 3.5GHz spectrum using a standard commercial chipset, based on the September 2018 version of the 3GPP Release 15 specification. This was said to pave the way for the use of multiple devices, as well as video streaming applications.

Optus’ multi-year 5G network build plan includes upgrading and adding new mobile sites while densifying the network with small cell deployments to increase capacity and speed in highly populated inner-city locations.

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