Optus kicks its network up a gear, launches 4.5G in Sydney

Nick Broughall 22 February 2017

Optus HQ Macquarie Park

Expects to cover 70% of the Optus network with 4.5G within 12 months.

Before the Australian networks begin the long march to launching a 5G future in 2020, there's a definitive roadmap for growing and expanding the current 4G network. Optus today announced that its next big development has been switched on, with customers in Sydney's suburb of Macquarie Park now able to enjoy 4.5G speeds.

In testing, Optus claims it achieved throughput speeds on 1.03Gbps using a combination of technologies, including carrier aggregation, 4x4MIMO antennas and a technology called 256QAM which allows for greater throughput.

Don't expect to wander to Macquarie Park and getting gigabit speeds on your iPhone 7 though. Commercial products that can take advantage of the added speeds won't be available until later this year. You may get a speed boost up to two to three times, if the device can handle it.

The focus for Optus' rollout isn't necessarily all about speed though. It's about capacity and performance, which is improved between 2-4 times, according to Optus networks managing director Dennis Wong at the launch event.

That means that you will be less likely to be stuck buffering while you try and stream Netflix in HD on your mobile device. In a tech demonstration using a proprietary modem, Optus showed four simultaneous 4K streams running off the 1Gbps connection, which Optus claimed was only using about 300Mbps of the available bandwidth.

Optus has 5,600+ mobile sites across Australia offering 4G+ network, with speeds that theoretically can reach 300Mbps. In 2017, Optus plans on extending that coverage, with a goal of making even more of its network video ready for regional areas.

Optus is planning on using the new network to spearhead its expansion as a digital entertainment company. At its most recent earnings report, Optus announced it had 9.57 million mobile customers and 1.13 million broadband customers, with the growth largely leveraging Optus's entertainment solutions. That includes everything from the EPL and cricket coverage on Optus Sport, as well as the unmetered Netflix and music streaming offerings on its mobile plans.

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