Optus trials HSDPA in Canberra, Sydney

Commercial roll-out still months away

Not wanting to be left behind by Telstra and Vodafone, Optus has started a field trial of High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) over its 3G network in Canberra and Western Sydney.

According to Optus, the trial, which follows "months of successful lab testing", will use the 2100MHz spectrum and was made possible with the upgrade of 14 base stations.

"The base stations will test functionality and performance of products over HSDPA and 3G technologies and testing will involve products designed to provide fixed wireless access to the Internet, e-mail and corporate intranets using HSDPA as the backhaul service," an Optus spokesperson said, adding the network will provide wireless broadband services to areas that do not have access to traditional fixed-line broadband today.

Following a successful trial, Optus will consider commercial roll-out plans but as to when this might be is still uncertain. The spokesperson said the trial is likely to go into the New Year.

"The trail is in its early stages and we're not in a position to give further details," the spokesperson said.

While Optus and Vodafone are in a 3G network sharing agreement, Optus has not yet brought any HSDPA services to market.

Instead, Optus plans to focus on interoperability between networks with its Optus Wireless Connect (OWC) service.

"OWC data cards offer seamless roaming between 3G, GSM and Wi-Fi networks [and] in time, OWC will also seamlessly roam onto the HSDPA network," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson then took a shot at Telstra's new Next G HSDPA network.

"Optus is obviously keeping its options open in relation to the future of its 3G network, but as our whole history shows, Telstra needs more than a few extra base stations to protect itself against losing customers to our superior value proposition," the spokesperson said.

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Rodney Gedda

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