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The switch-on, ­ originally due last year, ­ comes after delays which Vodafone has blamed on network equipment supplier Ericsson, also the supplier of Telstra’s rival ­ and faster ­ Next G network.

Vodafone says it is in the final stages of testing and tuning the new network, which extends its theoretical 14Mbps 3G services to areas including Albury-Wodonga, Ballarat, Ballina, Bunbury, Byron Bay, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Kiama, Lismore, Mackay, Newcastle, Toowoomba, Townsville, Wollongong, Bowral, Nowra and Wagga.

Customers in all other existing Vodafone 2G coverage areas should be able to experience Vodafone 3G services by August, Vodafone says.

The May upgrade will see Vodafone’s 3G coverage reach 80 per cent of the Australian population. When the second stage is completed in August, it will reach more than 94 per cent of the Australian population.

Telstra claims its Next G coverage extends to 99 percent of the population with a theoretical download top speed of 21Mbps.

 

A 21Mbps modem is now available in Telstra retail stores for business customers after an earlier direct rollout to several thousand businesses. A BigPond 21Mbps device for consumers is due in April.

Actual download speeds experienced by end users are much lower.  Telstra says its customers can expect speeds between 550Kbps and 8Mbps. Vodafone claims its typical speeds should be between 500Kbps and 1.5 Mbps.

Telstra Next G holds 48 percent of the Australian 3G market, according to Telsyte figures, followed by Optus on 21 percent. Three holds 20 percent and Vodafone 11 percent ­ potentially allowing the new VHA to leapfrog Optus into second place with a combined 31 percent market share.

 

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