Australian mobile operator Optus has brought forward the planned completion date of its HSPA network by twelve months, with the deployment intended to reach 96 percent of the country’s population by the end of next year. The new schedule matches rival Vodafone’s plans – announced this week – to complete its HSPA mobile broadband network by the end of 2008.
Both companies entered an agreement to share their 3G networks in metropolitan areas in 2004. However, Optus says there are no plans to extend that relationship beyond such areas at this stage. Optus will use a combination of 900MHz and 2100MHz spectrum to complete the HSPA network. The 900MHz range will be used primarily in rural and regional Australia. Vendors Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks will provide infrastructure equipment, with network rollout costs anticipated to be up to US$440 million. Both operators lag Telstra in the race to offer HSPA mobile broadband services in Australia. Telstra announced its Next G network late in 2006 and made claims it could cover 98 percent of the population.