Optus switches on consumer 4G network

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Optus switches on consumer 4G network

Services live Sydney, Perth and Newcastle.

Optus has opened up its 4G network to consumers, launching new services in Sydney, Perth and Newcastle. Melbourne is set to follow on September 15.

The consumer network launch comes after months of regional 4G trials and Optus' introduction of 4G services for small business and enterprise customers in Sydney and Perth in July.

"As part of our long running strategy, we rolled out the business plans first, made sure they worked and now we're rolling out with the wider consumer launch,"  Optus' vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs David Epstein told iTnews.

In Sydney, Optus' 4G footprint stretches from Bondi in the east to Newington in the west and from La Perouse in the south to Dee Why in the north.

The carrier's 4G coverage in Perth extends from the airport in the east to City Beach in the west and from Como in the south to Innaloo in the north.

All of Newcastle is covered by the 4G network, as well as Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie. Optus has used Newcastle as a 4G testbed since April.

In Melbourne, coverage will stretch from Blackburn in the east to St Albans in the west and from Brighton in the south to Fawkner in the north.

Optus is offering its 4G network on its $60 and $80 24-month plans, which includes 1.5GB and 2GB of data respectively.

The plan also bundles in a Samsung Galaxy S III 4G smartphone for $0 upfront on the $80 plan and monthly repayments of $7 on the $60 plan.

"We've launched with what we believe is the strongest 4G smartphone out there on the market today," Epstein said.

An Optus 4G USB modem and portable Wi-Fi modem are also available for the network. 

Both plans include unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter LinkedIn, MySpace, eBay and Foursquare, unlimited standard national SMS and unlimited mobile phone calls to other Optus customers. 

New 4G products in pipeline

Epstein said he was "very confident" a lot more 4G products would come to market in the coming months.

"That's certainly been the experience in the shift from 2G to 3G and where we've looked at markets overseas with 4G coming in, it's moved even faster," Epstein said.

"So we think consumers are going to have a wide degree of choice on how they access 4G services very quickly." 

According to Epstein, Optus' primary strategy with its network rollout is to provide strong competition for the consumer.

"Our intention [with 4G] has been to march to our own drum beat, which is about getting our 4G network right from the start," Epstein said.  

"Some carriers have rushed out there, and clearly they've had to make announcements afterwards because their networks have come under pressure. We're hoping to offer a network that's robust from the beginning."

Epstein said takeup of Optus' 4G business network had been impressive so far, with a lot of positive feedback.

"Our 4G business customers are liking the fact they can do many more things with more speed and flexibility. 4G can sometimes be a bit of an abstract concept, but as soon as they get on 4G, what they find is that it's just so much easier for them to do the sorts of things they need to in their business and they tend to use their devices a lot more."     

Telstra's 1800MHz 4G network has been available in select cities since September last year.

Virgin Mobile in July said it would offer 4G services on Optus' network, while Vodafone planned to begin rolling out its own 4G LTE network next year.

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