The scramble to provide fast LTE wireless technology services, by the end of the year has Vodafone this week beginning its rollout utilising its 1800MHz spectrum with an upgrade of the Hunter and Newcastle region of NSW.
Telstra earlier this year announced it would deploy commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE, or 4G) services in the CBDs of all Australian capitals and selected regional centres by the end of 2011.
Optus now is the only mobile carrier that has not yet revealed its plans for LTE deployment. However they have been conducting trials in Pymble a suburb of Sydney.
This week, Vodafone engineers plan to switch on its latest mobile network at five base stations at and around Ourimbah on the NSW Central Coast.
According to Vodafone the new equipment is capable of delivering 2G, 3G and – later – LTE from a single base station site.
The five sites will be the first of 44 that Vodafone will upgrade from Ourimbah, throughout Newcastle city and suburbs, and along a north-west corridor stretching to Springvale in the Hunter Valley.
Following installation, the mobile carrier will spend the next six weeks test driving and tuning the Hunter network wit the aim of optimising performance.
“Our plan is to minimise disruption to customers in the area and absolutely maximise network performance in Newcastle and the Hunter before moving on to other regions of Australia,” says Vodafone CTO Michael Young.
“Customers in upgraded areas can expect to see stronger coverage and greater reliability from the Vodafone network, and ultimately – as we continue to introduce other new technologies and capacity into the network throughout the year – they will experience better indoor coverage and faster data speed.”
Following a plethora of complaints about its older network service, Vodafone has prioritised its national 2G and 3G radio access network (RAN) replacement project at all of its Australian base stations, with engineers targeting highest demand sites first. Vodafone says it will replace and install radio equipment at around 8000 sites over the next 18 months.
It will replace around 5800 existing 2G and 3G base station sites with Huawei’s SingleRAN system and also install the new Huawei network equipment at more than 2200 new sites over the next 18 months
SingleRAN will enable Vodafone to upgrade to 4G or LTE at the flick of a switch, the company says.