Optus to test 5G mmWave technology

The Australian telco is testing mmWave technology using the 26GHz band at four locations in Sydney

Optus is planning to test the use of 5G millimetre wave (mmWave) technology to support users in dense areas with large and concurrent demand for its mobile network, with Ericsson as its partner.

This comes after the Australian telco was given approval by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to operate and test mmWave technology using the 26GHz band at four locations in Sydney, including its Macquarie Park headquarters.

Earlier this week, Optus made its first mmWave data call at its headquarters using a Casa Systems mmWave customer premises equipment (CPE) after extensive testing at its Sydney lab.

Lambo Kanagaratnam, Optus’s managing director for networks, said it was important that the telco starts testing mmWave technology now so it can better harness its capabilities for consumers and enterprises in future.

“mmWave 5G is the next step in unlocking mass productivity gains through a high-speed wireless communication layer,” he said. “The enterprise market in particular is expected to gain from mmWave, with sectors such as autonomous manufacturing, mining and port operations all examples of industries that will considerably benefit from mmWave 5G and its capability to offer higher speeds.”

Together with its dual-band 5G network, mmWave is expected to increase Optus’s 5G network capabilities that offer high bandwidth and high-speed services.

In late 2019, Optus fired the first salvo in Australia’s 5G roll-out when it launched a 5G fixed wireless broadband service for up to 138,000 homes, following a commercial trial involving more than 200 residential customers.

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Optus CEO Allen Lew said at the time that 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.

The auction for mmWave spectrum in Australia is slated to take place in early 2021. In February this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) called for feedback on potential competition issues associated with an upcoming allocation for the 26GHz spectrum.

ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said while it was important for the spectrum to be allocated in an economically efficient way, competition should be promoted among spectrum users for the long-term benefit of businesses and consumers.

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