Australian mobile network operator Optus is pressing ahead with plans to roll out its Long Term Evolution (LTE) services nationwide, having announced the launch of a 4G trial with around 1,000 users in the Hunter region at the end of last month. According to The Australian, Optus has now drawn up a shortlist of vendors which are expected to compete for the contract for the nationwide LTE rollout, which it is suggested could be worth up to AUD1 billion (USD974 million). The five companies to have made the shortlist are understood to be Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson and Samsung. Meanwhile, the cellco’s current equipment supplier, Nokia Siemens Networks, was reportedly nixed after the first stage of the tender process, although it has been said that it may be invited back into the bidding process later on. With Huawei having been contracted to upgrade Optus’ network in Newcastle for the initial LTE trials, it has been suggested in some quarters that the Chinese vendor stands a strong chance of claiming the nationwide rollout deal.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Optus reiterated its plans for a commercial launch of 4G services, with it noting that the trials of LTE technology are taking place ahead of its capital city network rollout, which will see the LTE network switched on in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from mid-2012. Phase two of the rollout will see an expansion of 4G services to Brisbane and Adelaide from the first half of 2013.