Optus to acquire Vividwireless, plans TD LTE network

Singtel’s Australian subsidiary, Optus, has announced plans to acquire WiMAX operator Vividwireless in a deal worth AUD $230 million. The agreement includes the transfer of Vivid’s operating businesses, customer bases, spectrum licences and 4G network.

Vivid operates two wireless broadband businesses under the brand names Vividwireless and Unwired and is owned by Australian operating and investment group, Seven Group Holdings. Vivid launched 4G services in Perth in March 2010 and has a network that also covers parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra.

If successful, the acquisition will give Optus 98MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band, which will be used to build and operate a TD LTE network in the metropolitan areas of Australia. The TD LTE network will offer speeds ranging between 25Mbps and 87Mbps, which Optus claims is twice as fast as existing competitive 4G services.

Optus will also integrate the TD LTE network with its own 1800MHz 4G network, which will be launched in Newcastle and the Hunter region of New South Wales in April 2012.

Paul O’Sullivan, CEO at Optus said: “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. 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.”

Optus’ parent company, SingTel, is pro TD LTE and the opportunity to roll out the technology in Australia is thought to be the main reason for the transaction. The technology is claimed to be superior to FD LTE in terms of meeting the demand for mobile data as it allows the uplink and downlink ratio on a network to be changed dynamically to match demand.

Vivid joined the Global TD LTE Initiative in May 2011 having conducted TD LTE trials last February.

The transaction is subject to the reissue of Vivid’s 2.3GHz spectrum licence and approval from regulators ACCC and FIRB.

Once complete, the transaction will position Vivid as a potential rival to incumbent Telstra, which launched commercial 4G services in some Australian cities last year. Optus stands in second place in the Australian mobile market with 32.1% market share, behind Telstra’s 43.6%. Third place Vodafone Hutchison Australia has 24.3%.

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