4G advances make NBN an uphill battle

Our major telcos seem further down the 4G route than previously thought and this could and should have major implications for our government-led broadband roll-outs.

Our major telcos seem further down the 4G route than previously thought and this will have major implications for our government-led broadband roll-outs.

Vodafone New Zealand has been talking about the technical details of its 4G plans due for launch in 2014, such as the problems with getting handsets , how speeds might be allocated and so on.

Vodafone's rural network bid, now in association with Telecom NZ, will also feature "4G ready" towers. This follows much talk about 4G and wireless being suitable for rural broadband.

It all sounds very positive from our telcos, adding to the New Zealand government announcement in September that 4G would be an ideal use for the old analog tv frequencies following our 2013-15 Digital Switchover.

But what struck me recently, was news from Hong Kong, that bastion of capitalism, where a major roll-out of 4G will deliver speeds that match those of our government schemes.

Certainly 4G appears to have arrived at last and this should have major implications for our governments and telcos.

A second 4G network was launched in Sweden this month, following a world-beating launch there a year ago.

In the US, Verizon is about to launch a major 4G network, though there are claims it strictly doesn't meet the 4G global definitions.

Meanwhile, Telstra and other Australian carriers are testing the technology and are chomping at the bit for spectrum needed to run it.

Fibre naysayers will latch onto the ever-increasing promised speeds, saying that they negate the need for a fibre roll-out. Governments will have an interesting fight keeping their message on track. So let's sit back, and watch the war of words.

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