Optus has finalised the buyout of 4G rival vividwireless, a process which began back in February, having gained regulatory approval. The big news out of the announcement? Optus will set up two testing centres in Sydney to test its LTE-TDD capabilities ahead of a 2013 launch.
The centres, located at St Mary’s and Macquarie Park, will be constructed later this year and used for testing interoperability between the 2.3GHZ LTE-TDD networks Optus plans to run using vividwireless spectrum and the 1800MHz LTE network which kicked off in April (albeit only for a limited group of people). Optus wants to ensure that customers can easily jump from one network to another (presuming they have the right equipment), a pattern we’ve also seen with Telstra’s 4G rollout.
While vividwireless had conducted its own tests earlier (and boasted of potential speeds up to 87Mbps from them), those tests only utilised 20MHz of the spectrum vividwireless owned. Optus says the new tests will cover the full 98MHz of spectrum it has access to in the 2.3GHz band. You also shouldn’t confuse them with the earlier 700MHz tests; those were using the analogue TV spectrum for which we’ve just found out the April 2013 auction date. Clearly, 2013 will be a very busy year on the 4G front.
But what’s behind the choice of Macquarie Park (a dull corporate suburb in Sydney’s north-west) and St Mary’s (a dangerous dormitory suburb in Sydney’s west)? Apparently, that will ensure they “do not interfere with existing WiMAX networks operated by vividwireless”. Given the shocking performance of the existing vividwireless service in Sydney, I guess I should be in favour of that.