Optus plans home trial of last mile 4G broadband link

In a move that could lead to anxious moments at Vivid Wireless, Optus has announced an internal trial using 4G links for home broadband.

The move for user trials of a home wireless broadband offering comes a year after Optus pulled down the shutters on Unwired, Australia's first major fixed wireless broadband ISP, which came with acquisition of Vivid Wireless in early 2012.

In February 2012, the A$230 million acquisition was touted as vital to Optus' 4G rollout.

The new trial, involving 200 Optus staff in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, would use static wireless modems to provide ''ADSL2+ like speeds'' over the 4G network of the carrier.

 ''This is not just in terms of speed and experience, but also how we manage our 4G Plus network to actively prevent a customer's connection changing, wavering or dropping off during busy times,'' Optus said in its press release.

Staff would use company-provided wireless modems to test the stability of the network, provide data about user behaviour, and provide input on packaging the network.

This would come as the telco's third attempt at offering wireless-last-mile services. In the late 1990s, it established Agility Networks, which later morphed into an outfit called XYZed, to offer business services over the then-exciting LMDS spectrum.

Meanwhile, the telco would roll out a second type of 4G network across four capital cities tomorrow that it claims could deliver faster video streams and more consistent data download speeds.

The new "4G Plus" network, the only mobile broadband network in Australia to use "time division" technology - known as TD-LTE - comes after a Canberra-based trial that got under way in May. The 4G networks currently operated by Telstra, Vodafone and Optus use "frequency division" (FD-LTE) technology.

About 22 sites would be switched on in Melbourne today, with plans to get to Flemington, home of the Melbourne Cup, in time for the Spring Racing Carnival, along with 33 sites across Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

According to Epstein, the aim of the game, with a combination of the two types of technology, was to have 70 per cent of the metropolitan population covered by 4G networks by mid-2014.

Optus currently counts around 1 million devices using its current 4G network.

Existing Samsung Galaxy devices and the new iPhone 5S and 5C would be compatible with 4G Plus, which operated at 2.3 GHz, while Optus' existing 4G network operated at 1800 MHz. Access to the network requires consumers to have a 4G plan and a TD-LTE enabled device to access the new network.