Optus is putting pressure on its competitors in the race to be the first telco with comprehensive 5G services, switching on 4.5G network services in Macquarie Park, the telco headquarters’ home suburb.
Before an audience of media at the Optus Campus in Sydney on Wednesday, managing director of networks Dennis Wong told guests the company was driven by its strategy to converge mobile technology with high-quality multimedia.
Wong said Optus was pushing towards 5G as part of its evolving entertainment strategy, that has already seen the company move into mobile sports broadcasting, with a number of rights already held.
“4.5G is a key area of investment for our network evolution towards 5G. It is an important enabler for 5G and we are excited to be able to deliver this new initiative to our customers at Macquarie Park,” he said.
Through a hardware partnership with Huawei, the telco has rolled out a number of new antenna base stations across Macquarie Park, which will allow the suburb's 95,000 residents and 400 business to access higher speeds, through mobiles already capable of 4G as well as new devices the company is set to roll out in 2017.
4.5G will also be rolled out in selected capital cities in the next 12 months and is expected to reach more than 70 percent of the Optus network in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
“Ultimately the launch is a step closer to Optus being able to deliver 5G network speeds to customers and will continue to invest in R&D and our partnership with Huawei to achieve this,” Wong said.
Through Optus’ testing and a demonstration held at the campus, a fixed-point wireless setup running on a modified Huawei router achieved a consistent data rate of 1Gbps.
It is understood the 1Gps data rate is the maximum achievable throughput on these services, with actual speeds impacted by the usual assortment of factors, including device capability and network congestion.
The network uses 4CC/5CC carrier aggregation and multiple-in, multiple-out technology via 20 128-component antennas situated throughout the district. The demonstration streamed four 4k video streams simultaneously, while Optus mobile planning director Kent Wu addressed some of the specifications.
Timing surrounding the rollout of a commercial 5G network remains uncertain, with Optus chief executive Allen Lew explaining that commercial accessibility depended on three factors: the 5G standard, the spectrum and technology infrastructure. Lew said Optus had already achieved the latter two factors, with a 35ghz share of the available 2800ghz spectrum and technology infrastructure provided in partnership with Huawei.
"Today we will be the first telco to amp up our plans for 5G," Lew said. "Operators across the world have talked about trialling and experimenting with 5G; at Optus we will make a bold move to bring 5G into realisation."