Vodafone Australia turns on 850MHz 4G in Adelaide

Vodafone Australia has switched on its 4G mobile network in Adelaide's CBD and suburbs, with the telco saying that the low-band 850MHz network would improve customers' indoor coverage.

Just months after Vodafone Australia announced that it would repurpose its low-band 850MHz network holding for its 4G rollout, the company has switched on its high-speed coverage in Adelaide.

Vodafone Australia said that its deployment of 4G coverage on its low-band 850MHz long-term evolution (LTE) network in the city and surrounding suburbs would offer its customers better indoor and greater outdoor coverage across metropolitan Adelaide.

"Customers will immediately notice the difference right across Adelaide and its outer suburbs following a mass switch-on of new 4G coverage," said Vodafone's chief technical officer, Benoit Hanssen.

"The type of spectrum we've used to roll this out is known as low band, which means it works better indoors, including homes, businesses, shopping malls, and car parks," he said.

Vodafone said that customers would not have to make any changes to their mobile device settings or plans in order to start using the network, with the company pointing out that most of its customers' phones are already compatible with the new 4G coverage.

"We've tested all the major smartphones to see how they perform on our new 4G network, including the popular iPhone 5 and 6 models and Samsung Galaxy. What it means for customers is that they'll notice the 4G symbol on their phone more often, meaning they have faster download speeds," said Hanssen.

However, the telco also noted that its 4G service is "available in selected areas and is only available with a compatible device with an active Vodafone prepaid recharge or a plan with Vodafone alerts".

Vodafone announced in July that it would be reallocating — or re-farming — its existing 850MHz spectrum, which had previously been used for its 3G network, to boost its 4G coverage to reach 95 percent of Australia's metropolitan population by the end of the year.

According to the telco, a low-band spectrum, like 850MHz, is well suited to providing high-quality indoor mobile coverage, as the lower-frequency signal penetrates buildings better than higher-frequency signals.

This complements the 4G coverage already provided through Vodafone's 1800MHz spectrum, which the company switched on in parts of Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle, and Wollongong in June last year.

Vodafone's latest deployment in its 850MHz 4G network rollout comes almost four months after Optus and Telstra moved to launch their first 4G 700MHz spectrum band commercial services.

On July 21, Optus and Telstra both announced that a number of 4G 700MHz sites would be switched on ahead of the January 1 launch of the networks, with Darwin, Perth, Fremantle, Mount Isa, Mildura, Griffith, and Esperance among the metro centres to be the first to receive the service.

Optus announced on October 7 that for its customers in over 200 regional locations and holiday destinations around Australia with compatible devices would have access to its 4G network.

Optus said the new coverage locations would significantly expand the reach of Optus' existing 4G network, with plans to cover 90 percent of the Australian population by April 2015.

Its 4G services will be turned on using the 2600MHz and 700MHz spectrum, which become available from October 2014 — except Western Australia, which is available from February 2016 — and January 2015 respectively.

Optus said it has already turned on its first commercial 4G sites using the new 2600MHz spectrum in parts of Ballarat, Cairns, Port Macquarie and Port Augusta, with a further 30 locations planned to get the service from from October 13.

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