Optus is in the process of acquiring Vividwireless Group for $230 million which will aid the telco's plans to rollout its 4G LTE network.
Vividwireless Group is owned by Seven Group Holdings and operates the vividwireless and Unwired brands. vividwireless claims to run Australia’s first 4G network which uses WiMax and had plans to launch an TD-LTE network.
There is still debate on whether WiMax is considered a ‘true’ 4G technology.
Once the transaction is complete, Optus will take over Vividwireless Group’s operating business, customer bases, spectrum licences and 4G network.
Optus will have access to Vividwireless’ 98MHz of spectrum in 2.3GHz band. One condition of the deal is for Vividwireless to be reissued its 2.3GHz spectrum licences by the ACMA.
Last September, Optus announced it will be rolling out a 4G LTE networking using the more mainstream FD-LTE technology using the 1800MHz spectrum. The first part of the network will be switched on in April.
With the acquisition in the works, Optus plans to use the vividwireless TD-LTE assets to build a new 4G network to service households and businesses in metropolitan areas which will integrate with the 1800MHz network.
The new network is expected to have download speeds ranging from 25Mbps to 87Mbps, according to TD-LTE trails done by Vividwireless.
Optus could not comment on how the purchase of Vividwireless Group would impact its 4G network rollout schedule.
“The acquisition of Vividwireless will give Optus a significant increase in network capacity to address the next wave of data growth that is just around the corner,” Optus CEO, Paul O’Sullivan, said in a statement.
“By integrating it with our current 4G rollout (in the 1800MHz band), we will be able to provide increased mobile speeds to our customers in metropolitan Australia.”
The deal is subject to ACCC approval.
Optus’ mixed TD-LTE and FD-LTE 4G network
It appears Optus is not expecting any problems with integrating a TD-LTE network with its planned FD-LTE network.
An Optus spokesperson cited two networks in Europe that use both FD and TD LTE for their 4G networks: Hi3G by Hutchison Telecom and Aero 2 in Poland.
“There are currently devices that can access both TD-LTE and FD-LTE technology and we expect this to grow over time as convergence of the two standards continue,” the Optus spokesperson told ARN
Telsyte research director, Chris Coughlan, agreed there is very little difference in TD-LTE and FD-LTE granted mobile devices can support both technologies since most networks have a common core network.
“In a sense, TD-LTE is actually better because of the asymmetrical ability to give resources to downlink, from uplink, to devices,” he said. To put it simply, networks using TD-LTE can make download speeds faster at the expense of upload speeds.
FD-LTE operates on paired spectrums for data transfer and TD-LTE uses unpair spectrums. It’s the difference between using two-frequencies versus and one channel for two-way communication.
To be able to favour download speeds is an advantage since most people download content rather than upload it on mobile data networks.
“FD-LTE performance is somewhat better but it’s really good for video calls,” Coughlan said. “It has the same uplink and downlink capacity but uplink is generally underutilised.”
Optus’ main competitor, Telstra, has already launched its FD-LTE 4G network in selected locations across Australia.