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Vodafone: 100% population coverage in NZ with current terrestrial technology 'unlikely'

Sathya Mithra Ashok | July 25, 2014
Tony Baird, head of networks at Vodafone NZ paints a picture of how the provider's services could improve in the future, and the ways in which the company is working to improve telecommunications skill levels in NZ.

Tony Baird, head of networks at Vodafone NZ talks to Computerworld NZ, painting a bold picture of how the provider's network and services will integrate and improve in the future, and how the company is working to develop local telecommunications skill levels in NZ.

Q: What are your plans for national 4G coverage?

Tony Baird: Over the last three years we have gone from 2G through 3G dual carrier to 4G. Globally people are seeing that 4G is really going to be the primary technology. Whilst we have done the dual carrier 3G, the true performance of the network will be on 4G with lower milliseconds of latency, faster download speed and faster upload speeds, due to its more efficient use of the spectrum.

Over the next few years our focus will be really on making sure that the 4G footprint is national. We will be at about 65 per cent population coverage really soon. We are over 60 per cent today. To get the first 50 per cent is quite simple, to get the last 50 per cent it is very hard. That is what the rural broadband initiative (RBI) and other initiatives are about.

Last June we tested 4G on 700MHz at Lake Brunner. So we have been testing on 700MHz now for over a year. We have got live cell sites in south Auckland that is for device testing, handovers between technologies and just integrating and getting used to the spectrum that went live last Monday. We have already got commercial traffic on it, so it is not just a test, it is a commercial release of the product.

The 700MHz spectrum will be a bit like U900. It will be ubiquitous layer across the country. It is very good for rural because of its long reach. We are getting about 22 kilometres range with L700 off Lake Brunner, but it is also very good for in-building because it goes through concrete and everything else. It is also very good for additional capacity because when you do carrier aggregation. You add it to the L1800, you start to get 300Mbps download speeds, which is great for a single user's performance, but it is also additional capacity when you have multiple users all trying to do the same thing at the same time.

We are putting 700MHz in RBI sites. That is what we tested at Lake Brunner last year. With the government's spectrum auction there is a commitment that we have made to build five new cell sites every year, plus a certain number of upgrades over five years. So we have got the contractual commitments that we need to meet.

 

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