For as long as Telstra has been Telstra, it has been the dominant mobile player in Australia, across consumer, small and large business segments. Optus has remained hot on its heels, but the reality is, it’s a ways behind.
With the advent of 5G, however, Optus is hoping to change all that … but it won’t be with today’s 5G which (in most cases) isn’t all that much faster than the 4G networks it replaces. IT News reports that Optus is looking further ahead, to mmWave 5G networks, to give it a fighting change to knock Telstra off the top position in enterprise.
Optus said in a regulatory filing, via IT News:
“While much is unknown about the possible future service made possible through mmWave application, what we can say at this early stage is that mmWave spectrum is unlikely to be used to supply wide area mobile networks; its propagation characteristics simply make this uneconomic.
Rather, mmWave will be targeted to specific users and ultra-high bandwidth applications, most likely in the enterprise market.
Optus submits that access to mmWave spectrum will enable wireless enterprise services that could challenge the incumbent dominant provider of enterprise services – finally opening this market to competition.
But the success of this new technology to disrupt existing markets will depend on the ability of operators other than Telstra to acquire sufficient 26 GHz spectrum.”
As with all finite resources, radio spectrum – especially these higher frequency spectrum bands – are usually hotly contested when they come up for auction. Limits have had to be imposed to ensure that all telcos can win allocations and launch sufficient services to generate real competition.
In this prized mmWave space, Telsta has been agitating for a 1 GHz band allocation, but Optus believes this would effectively prevent a second carrier from deploying optimal 5G services. Instead, it is pushing for allocations of around 800 MHz bands, which would allow peak network speeds above 20 Gbps, while allowing space in the spectrum for at least 3 networks.
While mmWave networks – owing to the frequency characteristics – will be far from the wide-area networks we’re familiar with in 4G and early 5G networks, their ultra-high bandwidth will allow for targeted areas to receive significant spectrum allocation. Think along the lines of business parks, university campuses, hospital campuses etc.
One thing’s for sure – we’re a long way away from seeing networks like these, but they are coming.