Vodafone has targeted the end of the year to complete rollout of its new mobile network supporting HSPA+ and 4G LTE. The carrier said the $1 billion, 2-year investment would result in better mobile coverage, increased data speeds and better network reliability.
Vodafone Hutchison Australia will turn on 3G+ (dual carrier - High Speed Packet Access+) in “selected metropolitan areas” this September and start rolling out LTE “in selected areas from 2013.” The telco will confirm exact timing of the LTE rollout “after working through the required tender process and contract negotiations,” it said.
Also by year end, Vodafone said it would install new transmission equipment and upgrade thousands of its base station connections to IPv6.
Vodafone has completed rolling out the new network in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Canberra, it said. “Vodafone reports significant improvements in the performance metrics it uses to assess customers’ call quality and continuity of smartphone, tablet and mobile broadband data sessions in all upgraded states and territories.”
Deploying the network in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne is in progress, Vodafone said. The carrier aims to finish the upgrades “to all sites on the Eastern Seaboard later this year.”
Customers’ current mobile phones, tablets and mobile broadband devices will work with the new, higher-speed network, Vodafone said. Coverage will be further enhanced by a proposed joint venture with Optus, covering 96 per cent of the Australian population starting April next year, the carrier said.
“Vodafone went through a very severe period of customer loss because the network wasn’t performing adequately,” Gartner analyst, Geoff Johnson, told Computerworld Australia. This latest announcement “is one of several periodic attempts that you’re going to see now to soothe the nerves of the market.”
Vodafone “can never move fast enough to recover [its] lost reputation,” Johnson said. Fixing “the reputation is going to take a period of probably a year or two beyond when the network’s technically complete.”
The new network brings much-needed improvements to the Vodafone network, making the carrier more competitive with market leader Telstra, which already has 4G, Telsyte analyst, Chris Coughlin, said. Vodafone has 30 MHz of spectrum in the 800 MHz band, twice as much as each Telstra and Optus. That wealth of spectrum could allow Vodafone to roll out LTE at higher speeds and with greater capacity than its competitors, he said.
Vodafone has had a “challenging couple years” integrating the Vodafone and Hutchison networks while building a new, faster network, Coughlin said.
Vodafone announced the network upgrade one day after an Optus official revealed a $2 billion investment in 4G. In an ironic twist, Vodafone customers in six states experienced data outages earlier in the day.
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