Australia’s second largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Optus, has announced that it has completed its first successful data connection using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology operating over the 700MHz band. According to iTWire, trials of the technology in the digital dividend band came after Optus’ September 2011 announcement that it had been handed such spectrum in Bendigo, Victoria, where the analogue TV switch-off has already taken place. The cellco had partnered with Chinese vendor Huawei for the trials, and Gunther Ottendorfer, managing director of Optus Networks, was cited as saying that his company intends to test a range of commercially available consumer devices that operate in the 700MHz band, including smartphones, tablets and Wi-Fi hotspots.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Optus outlined its plans for launching commercial fourth-generation services, with the cellco revealing it expects to introduce LTE technology for consumers from mid-2012. With its main rival Telstra having already switched on LTE-enabled sites in May 2011, Optus is now thought to have begun rolling out the 4G technology with a view to delivering LTE services to Newcastle, Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie areas in April 2012. Meanwhile, a rollout of LTE services in some of the country’s capital cities is also expected to get underway this month, aimed at inaugurating the fourth-generation technology in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from mid-2012; phase two of the rollout will see LTE expanded to other capital cities and regional centres at a later date. Optus in September 2011 also said of its plans to trial 700MHz LTE that using that band in particular will have benefits in rural areas of the country, due to its ability to deliver the high speed service over longer distances.