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Optus scores TD-LTE first with aggregation

Australia's second cellco combines four 20MHz channels in its 2.3GHz band to achieve peak data rates of over 160Mbps

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 20 December, 2013

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Australia has been a pioneer in mobile broadband since the WiMAX days, and this week, Optus has scored a TD-LTE first even ahead of market pioneer China Mobile. It has successfully tested a TD-LTE network with carrier aggregation, combining four 2.3GHz channels to make a total bandwidth of 80MHz, significantly improving its ability to support high capacity data services.

Optus said it had reached single-user peaks speeds of over 160Mbps in the test, run on its commercial 4G Plus network earlier this month. Each site can achieve throughput of over 500Mbps.


"This is the first time in the world that 4G carrier aggregation has been introduced into a live TD-LTE network; not in a lab, but on a fully operational, commercial network," said Vic McClelland, managing director of Optus Networks. "Our abundant spectrum holdings in the 2300MHz band; new technologies like carrier aggregation; and our 4G Plus TD-LTE network are the foundations of the Optus network of the future."

Optus acquired its unpaired 2.3GHz spectrum with the purchase of Vividwireless, formerly Unwired Australia, a start-up which had built out WiMAX-like networks in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Optus bought up the company from broadcaster Seven and closed down the legacy network in February this year. The firm had already begun migration to TD-LTE but this has been accelerated as it has become an important element of its new owner's competitive edge against incumbent Telstra and third player Vodafone.

The cellco first ran a test in St Marys, west of Sydney, combining four 20MHz channels to deliver site throughput of 520Mbps. It then activated LTE-Advanced aggregation on its commercial 4G Plus network in Melbourne by joining two 20MHz channels together, reaching peak speeds of 160Mbps. The theoretical data rate to a single user with this bandwidth would be 220Mbps using TD-LTE.

Optus 4G Plus is currently live in certain areas of Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide spanning 1.8GHz and 2.3GHz bands. In future, Optus will look to harness interband carrier aggregation to combine those two spectrum assets.

Also in Australia, Telstra has agreed to sell its 76.4% stake in Hong Kong subsidiary, CSL, to local player HKT, for US$2.43bn. HKT will also acquire the remaining 23.6% owned by New World Development.

Telstra CEO David Thodey said in a statement: "CSL has been a strongly performing business, the compound annual revenue growth rate was 9.4% over the last three years and we have gained market share. We are proud of CSL's achievements. It has established itself as a premium brand and strong player in the market, last year adding 425,000 mobile customers. However, there are a number of dynamics in the Hong Kong mobiles market that means this is the right opportunity for Telstra to maximise our return on this successful asset."

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