Singtel Optus Pty Limited is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of SingTel (a company headquartered in Singapore) since 2001. The company primarily trades under the Optus brand, while maintaining several wholly owned subsidiary brands, such as Virgin Mobile Australia in the mobile telephony market, Uecomm in the network services market and Alphawest in the ICT services sector.

To provide services, Optus mostly owns and operates its own network infrastructure, and also uses the wholesale services of the National Broadband Network and Telstra. It provides services both directly to end users and also acts as a wholesaler to other service providers such as Exetel and Amaysim. Through its Optus 'Yes' brand, it provides broadband, and wireless internet services. Other wholesale services include Satellite and 4G Mobile, in fact Optus is the largest satellite wholesaler in Australia.

The company was originally known as Aussat Pty Limited prior to privatisation, when it became Optus Communications Pty Limited. It was later renamed to Cable & Wireless Optus Pty Limited before changing again to its present name.

The word "Optus" is Latin for "to choose" or "to decide".[5]


Optus building in Melbourne, Victoria
Former Optus HQ, North Sydney, New South Wales.

Key Optus products and services include:

Retail services are sold to customers via phone, internet or through retail outlets, especially franchise chains such as Optus World, Network Communications, Strathfield, Telechoice, and Allphones.


A number of notable wholly owned subsidiaries operate as part of the Singtel Optus group. These are:

Until 20 January 2013, Optus sold mobile services under the brand name Boost Mobile.[8]

Optus also has a 50% stake in the now defunct OPEL Networks.[9]

Other wholly owned subsidiaries of note no longer have a significant active role as individual entities. These are as follows:

Reef Networks was formed in 1999 to provide an optical fibre link between Brisbane and Cairns in Queensland. Optus gained exclusive access to this link in 2001, ahead of acquiring the organisation in 2005.[10]

XYZed was established by Optus in 2000 to provide wholesale business-grade DSL services under an individual brand, but today provides a collection of products only as part of the Optus Wholesale & Satellite division. XYZed established a network of DSLAMs inside Telstra telephone exchanges, utilising Unconditioned Local Loop services to reach end users.[11]


AUSSAT and deregulation

Optus can trace its beginnings back to the formation of the Government-owned AUSSAT Pty Limited in 1981. In 1982, Aussat selected the Hughes 376 for their initial satellites, with the first, AUSSAT A1, launched in August 1985.[12] AUSSAT satellites were used for both military and civilian satellite communications, and delivering television services to remote outback communities.

With Aussat operating at a loss and with moves to deregulate telecommunications in Australia, the government decided to sell Aussat, coupled with a telecommunications licence. The licence was sold to Optus Communications — a consortium including:[13]

The new telecommunications company was designed to provide competition to then government owned telecommunications company Telecom Australia, now known as [Telstra].

Early history

Original 1990s logo

Optus gained the second general carrier licence in January 1991.[15]

Former Optus building in Adelaide, South Australia.

After privatisation, AUSSAT became Optus and its first offering to the general public was to offer long distance calls at cheaper rates than that of its competitor Telstra . The long distance calling rates on offer were initially available by consumers dialing 1 before the area code and phone number. Following this, a ballot process was conducted by then regulator AUSTEL, with customers choosing their default long distance carrier.[16] Customers who made no choice or refused to respond to the mailout campaign automatically remained as a Telstra long distance customer. Customers who remained with Telstra could dial the override code of 1456 before the area code and phone number to manually select Optus as the carrier for that single call. Since 1 July 1998, consumers have the choice of preselecting their preferred long distance carrier or dialling the override code before dialling a telephone number.

The group began by building an interstate fibre optic cable and a series of exchanges between Optus' interstate network and Telstra's local network. It also laid fibre optics into major office buildings and industrial areas, and focused on high bandwidth local, (interstate) long distance, and interstate calls for business. In its early years, Optus was only able to offer local and long distance calls to residential customers through Telstra's local phone network. Telstra would carry residential to residential calls to Optus' exchanges, and then the calls would be switched to Optus' long distance fibre optic network.

Optus was the main sponsor of the 1997 ARL season.

The hybrid fibre-coax rollout

These practices meant that Optus was the largest customer of Telstra. To become competitive Optus would need to lay its own local phone network. To provide a killer application for this, the Australian Federal government sold subscription television licences. Optus, as well as the Seven Network, businessman Kerry Stokes and American cable company Cablevision, formed the Optus Vision consortium. News Corporation and Telstra created the rival Foxtel consortium.

Telstra's local phone network did not have the capability to deliver Foxtel pay television to consumers in the early 1990s, so Telstra identified a need to create a broadband network to support this new product.

As Telstra and Optus could not agree on terms for a joint broadband cable roll out, they laid two competing cable networks, in addition to Telstra's existing copper network, at a combined cost estimated of over A$6bn.

Whilst Telstra focused on creating a broadband network specifically for broadcast, Optus designed their cable network to provide telephony services in addition to broadcast television.

Optus is no longer a customer of Telstra's after deciding to move the funding used to lease Telstra's copper network into constructing their hybrid fiber-coaxial network, the first in Australia.


Cable and Wireless with 24.5% stakeholder bought out Bell South's equal 24.5% shareholding in July 1997.[17] The company returned to profitability in 1998 and changed its name to Cable and Wireless Optus Pty Limited.[18] Government relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions paved the way for the company to be floated - with Cable and Wireless increasing its holding to 52.5%)[19][20] - and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on 17 November 1998.[21]

During 2001, Singtel launched a takeover bid for Cable and Wireless Optus[22] which was ultimately successful[23] and the company became known as Singtel Optus Pty Limited.

In the 2003 & 2004 Financial Year, Optus reported a profit of A$440 million. This was an improvement of A$412 million from the previous year.

In August 2004 Optus completed a A$227 million takeover of UEComm Ltd.

In July 2005 Optus announced it would acquire Alphawest Ltd. for A$25.9 million. The buyout was completed in November 2005 and Alphawest is now an operating division of Optus Business.

On 12 January 2006 Optus acquired the remaining 74.15% of Virgin Mobile Australia for U$22.6 m, giving it 100% ownership


OptusNet logo

Optus Communications offered its first business-focused internet products in 1998 under the OptusNet product family, offering in-house developed dial-up and high-speed services. Optus purchased one of Australia's pioneer ISPs, Microplex, in 1998 to provide consumer dial-up internet services.[24][25] Separate to this, under the Optus Vision brand, a cable broadband arm began as a joint venture with U.S. cable and content provider Excite@Home and was known as Optus@Home from its introduction in 1999 [26] until it was renamed in 2002.[27] ADSL services were offered from February 2004.[28] ADSL2+ services were provided from December 2005.[29]

OPEL Networks

Logo used until mid-2013

In June 2007, joint venture subsidiary OPEL Networks was awarded government funding towards the cost of building a regional broadband network. Optus was to be contracted to build the network on behalf of OPEL.[9][30]

In April 2008, after a change of the Federal Government from the Liberal Party of Australia coalition to the Australian Labor Party, the new government terminated the funding agreement and the project was halted, with its functions to be replaced by the National Broadband Network.


Optus is part of a consortium – now known as Terria – that in July 2006 announced their intention to make a combined bid to build the proposed National Broadband Network.[31]


Optus' fully owned network infrastructure consists of the following[32][33]

Network Backbone

Optus Underground Optical fibre cable warning post

Customer access network

  • Hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, providing consumer fixed telephony, cable internet and cable television services.
  • CBD optical fibre rings in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Wollongong, providing direct access for corporate and government services.
  • DSLAMs in certain Telstra local telephone exchanges in all states. Originally only providing business-grade DSL services, newer installations also provide consumer DSL and POTS telephony.

OptusNet is one of only five ISPs in Australia to provide Cable internet (the other four are BigPond, Neighbourhood Cable, TransACT and e-wire). In August 2010, OptusNet released an upgrade of its HFC network to the DOCSIS 3.0 standard,[34] which enabled customers to access a maximum theoretical downstream bandwidth of 100 Megabits. OptusNet is also one of the few ISPs in Australia to currently provide ADSL2+ via its own DSLAMs, which it also resells to other ISPs.[35]

Mobile telephony

Mobile network equipment is from Nortel, Nokia and Huawei and antennas are sourced from Andrews, RFS, Argus and Kathrein.[citation needed]

The Optus network operates on the following bandwidth frequencies across Australia:

  • 3G UMTS 900/2100 MHz
  • 4G LTE 700 / 1800 / 2100 / 2300 / 2600 MHz network which has been in progressive rollout since 2012.[36][37] VoLTE is currently being rolled out across Australia. For now, VoLTE is only available in CBD and metro areas in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra on selected devices purchased on postpaid contracts. Until VoLTE has been fully rolled out, voice calling is still reliant on the 3G network (and the 2G network until it is terminated).[38]

The 2G GSM 900/1800 MHz network was terminated on 3 April 2017 in Western Australia and Northern Territory.[39] 2G GSM will be completely terminated on 1 August 2017 when 2G is disconnected in Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia. A device that is capable of running 3G at 900 MHz will be required once 2G is completely disconnected to remain connected across Australia.

Partly owned infrastructure

Part-owned network infrastructure includes:

Managed services

Optus's Customer Solutions and Services (CS&S) organisation is responsible for providing support to Optus Business customers. CS&S works with Optus' subsidiary Alphawest to support information technology services across Optus' large business, corporate and government[42] client base.


Since 2005, Optus has outsourced some customer service functions to Convergys, with the outsourcer providing 800 staff operating offshore in India, supplementing Optus' 3,000-plus onshore call centre staff.[43] Some functions have also been supplemented in The Philippines.[44] Optus also uses [24]7 Inc. for telephone & chat based offshore support.

In October 2006, Optus announced that it would outsource 100 contracting jobs to another Singtel subsidiary, IT company NCS, in Singapore.[45]

See also


  1. ^ a b "SingTel re-organises leadership structure". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Kennedy, Stuart (31 January 2012). "Telstra defector John Paitaridis to lift Optus business". The Australian. Retrieved 20 February 2012. (Subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ a b Singtel Optus. "Management Discussions and Analysis" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  4. ^ Singtel. "Management Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition, Results of Operations and Cash Flows for the Fourth Quarter and Financial Year Ended 31 March 2008" (PDF). p. 76. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  5. ^ Bingemann, Mitchell. "Optus rings up 20 years, sticking to its guns". www.theaustralian.com.au. The Australian. Retrieved 14 March 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ Optus. "Optus Total Access Services". Archived from the original on 2007-09-04. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  7. ^ a b "About Optus — Network Coverage". Optus. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Optus gives youth a boost with new mobiles" (Press release). Optus. 2000-08-15. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  9. ^ a b "Elders and Optus to build rural and regional broadband network" (Press release). Optus. 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  10. ^ "Optus buys Reef". ZDNet Australia. 2005-03-31. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  11. ^ "Cable & Wireless Optus and Lucent to Build National DSL Network" (PDF) (Press release). Cable & Wireless Optus and Lucent Technologies. 2000-06-14. Retrieved 2006-06-05. 
  12. ^ "Aussat A-Series". Australia's Satellites & Programs. Lowdown. Archived from the original on 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  13. ^ Report 333 - The sale of Aussat. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia — Joint Committee of Public Accounts. September 1994. p. 12. ISBN 0-644-35468-2. 
  14. ^ Mayne Nickless. "1999 Annual Report" (PDF). p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  15. ^ Mitchell Bingemann, (30 January 2012), Optus rings up 20 years, sticking to its guns, The Australian Retrieved 9 February 2017
  16. ^ Zucker, Paul (1993-06-04). "Australia's Telecom apologizes for misleading ads". Newsbytes News Network. Archived from the original on 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  17. ^ "Bell South Agrees To Drop Stake In Australian Company". The New York Times. 1997-07-02. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  18. ^ "Optus continues strong turnaround performance" (Press release). Cable & Wireless Optus via Australian Securities Exchange. 1998-08-31. Retrieved 2008-07-19. [permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Cable & Wireless: "Optus"". Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (Communications Division). August 1999. Archived from the original on 2001-07-27. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  20. ^ "Cable & Wireless Optus Prospectus" (Press release). Cable & Wireless Optus via Australian Securities Exchange. 1998-09-30. Retrieved 2008-07-19. [permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Cable & Wireless Optus trades on ASX" (Press release). Australian Securities Exchange. 17 November 1998. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2008. 
  22. ^ Hall, Eleanor (2001-03-26). "Singtel confirms Optus merger". The World Today. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  23. ^ "Singtel Australia Completes Acquisition of Optus" (Press release). Singtel Telecommunications (via Australian Securities Exchange). 2001-10-23. Retrieved 2008-07-19. [permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Optus Buys Microplex". Australian Cybermalls News. 1998-05-25. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  25. ^ Clarke, Roger (5 May 2001). "A Brief History of the Internet in Australia". Archived from the original on 13 June 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2007. 
  26. ^ "Optus @Home priced for unlimited access" (Press release). Optus. 1999-12-16. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  27. ^ Borgo, Matt (2002-03-25). "Optus@Home renames to OptusNet Cable". Whirlpool. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  28. ^ McNeill, Fiona (2004-02-16). "Telstra-Optus price war erupts". Whirlpool. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  29. ^ Corner, Stuart (2006-03-30). "Optus launches ADSL2+ services". iTWire. Retrieved 2007-06-16. [permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "Broadband Access and Choice for rural and regional Australia" (PDF). OPEL / Elders. 2007-06-18. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  31. ^ "Nine leading telecommunications companies release their FTTN model" (Press release). Optus. 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2008-09-06. 
  32. ^ "Optus Network". Optus. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  33. ^ "DSL Network and Coverage". Optus. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  34. ^ Optus.com.au
  35. ^ "Australia — Broadband — ADSL2+ Providers". BuddeComm. Archived from the original on 19 September 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2007. 
  36. ^ Alex Kidman (15 September 2011). "Optus Plans LTE For April Next Year". Gizmodo. Retrieved 16 November 2011. 
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  38. ^ Taylor, Josh (25 November 2013). "Optus joins Voice over LTE race". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  39. ^ "Optus to cease 2G services from April 2017". 5 August 2015. 
  40. ^ "Optus and Vodafone Australia finalise agreement to roll out shared 3G network" (Press release). Optus and Vodafone Australia. 2004-11-19. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  41. ^ Corner, Stuart (2006-08-03). "Optus and Aussie dollar push down SingTel results". iTWire. Retrieved 2007-06-04. [permanent dead link]
  42. ^ Optus, Singtel. "Optus Business - Mobile Phones, Internet Plans & Fleet Services". 
  43. ^ "More Australian jobs coming to India". rediff News. 2006-07-06. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  44. ^ Sainsbury, Michael (2007-08-30). "Telstra sends 500 jobs offshore". Australian IT. Retrieved 2008-00-06.  Check date values in: access-date= (help)
  45. ^ "Optus moves 100 jobs offshore". ABC Finance News via Yahoo Finance. 25 October 2006. Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 4 June 2007. 

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