Australia’s Optus will launch a TD-LTE network in Canberra in March or April 2013, but it will use a different frequency than the rest of the company’s 4G network. Optus uses the 1800 MHz band to deliver Frequency Division LTE in most of Australia, but they will launch a TD-LTE service in Canberra using 2.3 GHz.
Unlike the rest of Australia, however, Optus lacks spectrum in the 1800 MHz band in Canberra. However, Optus bought the Unwired network from Vividwireless in February this year that freed up 98MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz spectrum band. Optus will use TD-LTE on 2.3 GHz around Canberra and will used FD-LTE on 1800MHz in other parts of the country.
It is unclear at this stage whether the new network in Canberra will be marketed differently to the rest of Optus’ 4G network to avoid customer confusion, reports ZDNet.
Optus also plans to launch 4G in Adelaide in the first half of 2013, to add to the existing sites in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and Newcastle.
Meanwhile, the city of Adelaide plans to offer free WiFi in the city center around Rundle Mall and Victoria Square. The service will help tourists who don’t have an Australian mobile data plan. The city will contribute AU$500,000 to the project and the regional government will pitch in AU$1 million. The city is looking at proposals from different providers.
The federal government’s National Broadband Network is estimated to cost A$35.9 billion to construct over a 10-year period. The fibre to the premises (FTTP) rollout is planned to reach approximately 93 percent of the population by June 2021. As of September 2012, construction of the network has commenced and 24,000 customer services are active.
As part of an agreement with NBN Co, Telstra will move its customers to the NBN, and lease access to its exchange space and extensive network ducting to assist in the rollout. A similar agreement with Optus is in place.
Approximately 93 per cent of the population is planned to be serviced with fibre to the premises (FTTP), with the remainder serviced by either LTE fixed wireless or satellite technologies. The 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz spectrums will be used to deliver these fixed wireless services. Unlike the mobile networks, only premises can connect to the NBN’s fixed wireless network.
Optus joined the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), to develop and promote TD-LTE. That alliance includes China Mobile, Japan’s Softbank, India’s Bharti Airtel, Clearwire in the US, and the UK’s Vodafone, along with Dish and DirecTV. It also includes Australian’s National Broadband Network – which is using TD-LTE for its fixed wireless and satellite services in remote areas. Suppliers include China’s Huawei Technologies, Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent.
Market-leader Telstra is expected to account for about three quarters of the Australian 4G market by Q4 2013. Telstra has pledged to expand 4G coverage from 40 percent of the population to 66 percent during its current fiscal year by mid 2013.
Number-two operator Optus switched on its first LTE networks for consumers this September, providing the first 4G competition for Telstra, which has been live since September 2011.
The country’s third operator, Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) is due to launch next year. Vodafone and Hutchison Whampoa have reportedly pumped over US$2 billion into their struggling Australian joint venture, backing a turnaround plan being plotted by VHA CEO Bill Morrow, a Clearwire alumnus.
Australia will auction its Digital Dividend in April 2013, as determined by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, but VHA is unlikely to be bidding on spectrum, says Morrow.
I’m no telecommunications engineer, but carving up the 2.6 GHz band into frequency pairs (70 MHz x 2) and leaving only 50 MHz available for competitive TD-LTE exposes the worst excesses of the ITU — where big carriers throw their weight around, actively blocking new competitors with promises of riches for government treasuries.
Paired spectrum — at a time when 95% of traffic is asymmetrical data not voice — appears to be just one example how the ITU has become corrupted by big telcos.
Everyone knows most telcos are in bed with governments. Unlicensed and shared spectrum, while offering less control, would almost certainly deliver more economic vitality for both governments and citizens. The ITU could dedicate 40 GHz out of the 140 GHz for municipal broadband. It wouldn’t cause a ripple in telco kickbacks.
It’s amateur hour at the ITU. Spectrum is a public resource. Like water or air.
About 458 million dual-mode (TD-LTE + FDD-LTE) devices will be activated by 2016, according to a study by Maravedis-Rethink. By contrast, Wimax devices activated will decrease by 52 percent over the next five years, accounting for only 3 percent or 17 million by 2016.
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