Optus gains early access to 900MHz 5G spectrum

Starts activating it at cell sites.

Optus has activated 900MHz spectrum at almost 1000 cell tower sites nationwide, which it said increases individual base station coverage “by up to 20 percent on a per-site basis”.

Acting managing director of networks Lambo Kanagaratnam said in a blog post that the telco had “achieved early access to a substantial portion” of the low-band spectrum, which it won at a government auction in December 2021.

The early access has enabled it to equip its cell towers to support 900MHz-based 5G services, although the customer benefit is currently limited.

“At present, the 5G low-band coverage is only available on select devices and subscription plans, with more devices and plans set to be activated this year,” Kanagaratnam said.

Kanagaratnam said the signal propagation characteristics of 900MHz spectrum meant that “each base station can provide coverage to a broader area and more customers.”

He added that the spectrum is also “critical” to power more enterprise applications of 5G, including IoT, and ultra-reliable-low-latency-connections (URLLCs).

The spectrum licences officially commence in July 2024 and cover 20 years.

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