Optus Plans Expanded 4G Roll-Out To 118 New Regions Around Australia

The race for 4G supremacy is on, and it’s running in earnest at the moment between the top two telcos Telstra and Optus. With the news that Telstra will switch on its 4GX network more broadly around Australia at the start of next year, Optus has name-checked 118 regions around the country that will benefit from its expanded 4G rollout in the next three to six months.

In a media release, Optus says it is bringing its 4G network — using both its purchased 700MHz spectrum and the equally new 2600MHz band — to “200 regional locations and holiday destinations throughout the country.” The list of regions, broken down by state, lists a total of 118 localities, towns and cities including Wagga Wagga, Bunbury and the Pilbara, with a further 35 locations co-listed (Murray River is listed with the 7.6km-distant Swan Hill in Victoria, for example) — 155 in total. Where Optus gets that claim of “200 new Aussie destinations” from isn’t quite clear.

Update: An Optus spokesperson has clarified the number for us: “The locations are broken down into general regional areas like the South Coast, Upper Murray, Granite Belt, Eyre Peninsula and the like. Within the each regional area, there will be several towns that make up the regional area which brings it to 200 locations, including holiday locations.”

These areas (mostly) haven’t had access to 4G through Optus’ mobile phone network ever before, and the rollout will massively expand the reach of the existing 4G network. The imminent Optus 4G rollout of 700MHz is comparatively massive, and will provide special benefit to metropolitan areas where the issues of indoor coverage and difficult terrain have to be overcome. Optus has also already switched on next-generation LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation for its 4G Plus network, providing very fast download speeds (although no device yet supports it).

An increasing number of devices support the 700MHz and 2600MHz 4G frequency bands used by Optus for its large-scale rollout, including the 700MHz-capable Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and HTC One M8. 2600MHz support is similarly improving with the iPhone 5S and 6 two of several handsets that support the standard. This network is distinct from Optus’ own 4G Plus network, which uses a novel (in Australia) 2300MHz frequency holding and the TD-LTE transmission standard.

Optus’ coverage maps don’t yet seem to show the planned rollouts for the regions listed in the company’s media release just yet — looking at Wagga Wagga, for example, doesn’t show any difference in the map and doesn’t show any 4G network coverage of the area when selecting either the three or six-month options. We expect that’ll be updated soon. [Optus]

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