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New Optus 4G in Canberra – good, bad, or ugly?

By 2604 - 24 May 2015 8

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A few years ago there was a RiotACT thread regarding poor Optus 3G reception in Tuggeranong. It turned out that this was a pretty common problem for Optus customers across Canberra.

Since that time, Optus has rolled out a new 4G network in Canberra. The coverage maps on the Optus website only show “4G – Outdoor” coverage. Previously with Optus 3G, we had “3G – Outdoor” coverage at our house. In practice, this meant that I had to go outside and stand in a particular part of the garden whenever the phone rang.

An Optus MVNO is currently dangling a tempting 4G carrot in front of my nose. Is anyone currently accessing the new Optus 4G network?

If so, how is the coverage, specifically in Tuggeranong and the Woden Valley?

In particular, I’d like to know about whether voice and data performance are OK indoors as well as out.

Thanks in advance.

What’s Your opinion?


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8 Responses to
New Optus 4G in Canberra – good, bad, or ugly?
DavidL 11:43 pm 02 Jun 15

Grrr – which came first, the chicken or the egg. Optus do not have a licence, or they chose not to seek a licence, or they couldn’t get one, or, see below they have one for another frequency which could be used. As my original comment indicated, not catering for your customers visiting from State capital cities is a marketing mistake likely to put off those customers (and local customers with phone preferences). Especially as I indicate in my other response, Optus also had, in terms of my ‘decent modern phone’ a number of other choices 900 and 2100 MHz (see conversion comment below). I purposely didn’t refer to my particular model (which also has 800, 900 and 2600) as I wasn’t pushing my own barrow but making a point about the strangeness of Optus’ marketing and support.

Your reference to a media release misses the point of media releases, which is to present your company in the best light. Otherwise it could have said “Optus failed to obtain licences in a number of frequencies which are in common use” (not true it does) or “we have frequency coverage but we are using it for 2G” – which is true. The pdf does refer to Optus having Canberra frequency coverage in 900 and 2100 frequencies. Some carriers (e.g. Telstra) have chosen to transfer frequencies covering say 2G to 4G. Optus has that option. Without having technical knowledge which might limit the validity of my reply, comments such as mine are also aimed at getting the carriers to notice and think of gaps in their coverage and fill them.

Given the greater data processing capacity of 4G and growing demand for data Optus really needs to think this through.

Grrrr said :

DavidL – Optus do not have a license for 1800MHz in Canberra, hence they cannot offer 4G on that frequency here. See the last page of this PDF for their current spectrum holdings: http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20130507/pdf/42fr1xcfvg9658.pdf

To 2604’s questions: As pointed out – reception depends a lot on precisely where you are, and what phone you have. So, what phone do you have (or are you prepared to buy)? Also, who are you with currently – and why move to this Optus MVNO?

The best way to find out whether the service it works how you want, where you want is to get yourself a $2 pre-paid SIM from Optus (or, I guess, one of their MVNOs) and check the signal for yourself.

However, to describe Optus 4G in Canberra:

For a couple of years now, Optus has had a bunch of 4G 2300MHz (LTE band 40) towers around Canberra. This is a high frequency – so you need to be close to the towers, and without too many obstacles in the way, because a good concrete wall will block it completely.

Since December last year, Optus has been turning on 700MHz (LTE Band 28) towers around town. As a low frequency, it penetrates much further and thus works better indoors. My phone spends most of the day connected on 4G on Band 28 with Optus.

Optus are also starting to turn on 2600MHz (band 7) a bit. As a high frequency, it’s in the same basket as 2300MHz.

You will need quite a fairly new, mid-to-high-end phone to have it support Band 28. If you look at
http://www.optus.com.au/shop/mobile/phones you can see phones that support Band 28 listed as “4G In More Places” .. Bear in mind that if you are buying from someone other than Optus, there can be multiple versions of a phone, and other versions than Optus sell might support different LTE bands (IE, not band 28..)

mtrax – none of the Note 3 variants support Band 28 .. Both the SM-N9005 and SM-N9007 have been sold here by Optus, and only the latter supports Band 40.

Grrrr 4:16 pm 27 May 15

DavidL – Optus do not have a license for 1800MHz in Canberra, hence they cannot offer 4G on that frequency here. See the last page of this PDF for their current spectrum holdings: http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20130507/pdf/42fr1xcfvg9658.pdf

To 2604’s questions: As pointed out – reception depends a lot on precisely where you are, and what phone you have. So, what phone do you have (or are you prepared to buy)? Also, who are you with currently – and why move to this Optus MVNO?

The best way to find out whether the service it works how you want, where you want is to get yourself a $2 pre-paid SIM from Optus (or, I guess, one of their MVNOs) and check the signal for yourself.

However, to describe Optus 4G in Canberra:

For a couple of years now, Optus has had a bunch of 4G 2300MHz (LTE band 40) towers around Canberra. This is a high frequency – so you need to be close to the towers, and without too many obstacles in the way, because a good concrete wall will block it completely.

Since December last year, Optus has been turning on 700MHz (LTE Band 28) towers around town. As a low frequency, it penetrates much further and thus works better indoors. My phone spends most of the day connected on 4G on Band 28 with Optus.

Optus are also starting to turn on 2600MHz (band 7) a bit. As a high frequency, it’s in the same basket as 2300MHz.

You will need quite a fairly new, mid-to-high-end phone to have it support Band 28. If you look at
http://www.optus.com.au/shop/mobile/phones you can see phones that support Band 28 listed as “4G In More Places” .. Bear in mind that if you are buying from someone other than Optus, there can be multiple versions of a phone, and other versions than Optus sell might support different LTE bands (IE, not band 28..)

mtrax – none of the Note 3 variants support Band 28 .. Both the SM-N9005 and SM-N9007 have been sold here by Optus, and only the latter supports Band 40.

JC 2:25 pm 27 May 15

DavidL said :

Access to 4G depends on your phone’s ability to receive the appropriate frequency, so check your phone first. Do a Google on your phone specifications. For some strange reason Optus has chosen, for instance, to offer the 1800 frequency in Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide, but not Canberra. So those visitors, politicians, business people coming to Canberra who have phones which don’t use other Optus frequencies available in Canberra, suddenly find they don’t have 4G. Very strange decision. The following wiki, which needs updating to include the availabiility of the 700 frequency in Canberra, gives you a rough idea of what is available. Don’t necessarily trust the company be it Telstra, Optus, etc. to advise you correctly as I had to bring the Optus support people up to date on the 700 frequency being made available.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G_connectivity_in_Australia#Networks
It looks like Optus only offers the 700 and 2300 frequencies – there may be more but I doubt it. In my case if I want 4G I have to switch to Telstra.

The frequencies need to be purchased so Optus can only use what they have brought. Presumably they didn’t get any 1800 spectrum in Canberra or it is being used for something else at the moment.

But any decent modern phone should be ok.

Nothing new really. Remember Telstras Next G network. One of the reasons for the naming was because it used unusual frequencies.

One word of warning if buying phones off the net especially US phones as some of these often only offer specific frequencies relating to carriers in the U.S. I phones for example there is one U.S. version that only does certain frequencies which renders it useless on other carriers for 4G.

DavidL 11:48 pm 26 May 15

Access to 4G depends on your phone’s ability to receive the appropriate frequency, so check your phone first. Do a Google on your phone specifications. For some strange reason Optus has chosen, for instance, to offer the 1800 frequency in Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide, but not Canberra. So those visitors, politicians, business people coming to Canberra who have phones which don’t use other Optus frequencies available in Canberra, suddenly find they don’t have 4G. Very strange decision. The following wiki, which needs updating to include the availabiility of the 700 frequency in Canberra, gives you a rough idea of what is available. Don’t necessarily trust the company be it Telstra, Optus, etc. to advise you correctly as I had to bring the Optus support people up to date on the 700 frequency being made available.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G_connectivity_in_Australia#Networks
It looks like Optus only offers the 700 and 2300 frequencies – there may be more but I doubt it. In my case if I want 4G I have to switch to Telstra.

dlenihan 5:59 pm 25 May 15

As for MVNO, I’m with Virgin but all virtual network suppliers may not be equal.

dlenihan 9:23 am 25 May 15

Since Optus turned on the 700Mhz LTE I had constant 4G. Obviously you need a LTE capable device but the OP is buying new and it should be compatible.

mtrax 6:41 am 25 May 15

I have a note3 and have never got 4g how many devices are compatible with the 4G frequency in Canberra?

dlenihan 4:43 pm 24 May 15

Its fine. I live in Monash and work in Civic and never have any problems with either voice or data. Worked in Woden in 2013 and it was good then too.

Using a S5 and get almost constant 4G signal.

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