Australia’s second largest mobile network operator by subscribers, Optus, has selected Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies for the construction of a Long Term Evolution-based (LTE-based) network in Newcastle, New South Wales. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, under the terms of the deal it is understood that Huawei will deploy its SingleRAN equipment allowing the operation of 4G services over the 1800MHz band. ‘This is a real milestone for Huawei Australia, marking the delivery of our first 4G network,’ the vendor’s chief technology officer Peter Rossi was cited as saying. The report suggests that Huawei Australia is hoping that the initial contract for the Newcastle rollout may lead to a national LTE deployment deal.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in September 2011 Optus firmed up plans for a commercial LTE launch, with the cellco revealing it expects to introduce 4G services from mid-2012. Optus at that date said it planned to begin rolling out the 4G technology from October 2011, 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 also began in October 2011, 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. September 2011, meanwhile, also saw Optus announce that it had become the first Australian carrier to be awarded a licence to trial LTE services in the 700MHz spectrum band, which had been freed up by the switchover to digital TV services. The operator says it expects to trial 700MHz LTE services in Bendigo, Victoria, claiming 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. Subsequently, November 2011 saw Optus confirm the completion of its first successful data connection using LTE technology operating over the 700MHz band, having partnered with Huawei for the trials.