Optus has today officially switched on its 4G network in Australia, making it the second telco in the country to offer a superfast 4G mobile service.
Unlike Telstra's full commercial 4G launch, however, the Optus 4G network is initially limited to "select customers" in the NSW regions of Newcastle, Port Stephens, Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie on an invited, trial basis.
Optus says the 4G network will be officially rolled out into Sydney, Melbourne and Perth from mid-2012, while a stage two rollout in Brisbane and Adelaide is expected to follow in the "first half" of 2013.
"Today marks the first step towards Australians having a choice for 4G services so they can connect and interact in new ways," said Günther Ottendorfer, Optus Managing Director of Networks.
Unlike Telstra's 4G network which launched last October along with the USB 4G modem, Optus hasn't officially made a 4G device available commercially. Instead, the telco is sending out a 4G USB modem to a select group of customers, free of charge, in exchange for their "feedback on network performance and device capability."
"By working with our customers to gather their feedback, Optus aims to continually enhance its 4G network and ensure that customers have an outstanding experience now, and into the future," he continued.
Like Telstra, the Optus 4G network operates on the LTE 1800MHz spectrum band, which was previously used for 2G services. However, Optus has already trialled 4G services running on the 700MHz spectrum band which is expected to become available at the end of 2013 once the current analogue TV spectrum is switched off.
Optus says 4G compatible smartphones will be available to customers "over the coming months" but hasn't commented on specific availability or pricing.