Vodafone to improve Australian 4G network performance

Vodafone today announced plans to repurpose part of their existing 3G network to improve 4G performance for Australia's metropolitan population by the end of 2014. To achieve this, the telco will be reallocate its low-band 850Mhz spectrum holding.

By Alex Choros

Vodafone today announced plans to repurpose part of their existing 3G network to improve 4G performance for Australia's metropolitan population by the end of 2014. To achieve this, the telco will be reallocate its low-band 850Mhz spectrum holding.

The low-band spectrum will provide increased Vodafone 4G coverage across metropolitan centres, as well as improved coverage indoors. Vodafone Chief Technology Officer, Benoit Hannsen, described the plan as a big boost in a short period of time, rather than a gradual rollout: "customers will immediately feel it".

The majority of smartphones currently on the market support the 850Mhz spectrum. As such, most customers will not be required to upgrade their phones to take advantage of the Vodafone's reallocation.

 

Customers in Newcastle will be the first to experience improved 4G coverage; Australia's coal capital served as the test site for the rollout, and the "new" network will remain in operation.

Hannsen said that the company will also continue to supply 3G on the 850Mhz frequency. In addition, he confirmed that Vodafone currently have no plans to switch off their 2G network.

Vodafone's announcement followed news of Telstra and Optus' own low-band spectrum plans last week. The two telcos both announced that a number of 4G 700Mhz test sites were being switched on ahead of the network's official launch on January 1, 2015. Telstra, Optus and TPG paid close to AUD$2 billion for the spectrum at an auction last year.

The Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8 and Kogan Agora 4G are currently the only smartphones in Australian capable of using the 700Mhz spectrum.

4G on the 700Mhz spectrum shares similar benefits to 4G on 850Mhz. According to Hansen, performance should be comparable. Hanssen was unable to confirm when Vodafone will make a move into the 700Mhz spectrum.

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