Vodafone has revealed plans to launch next-generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) or 4G mobile services to consumers later this year.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
Following months of user complaints about the quality of its network services, Vodafone will next week begin a massive national network upgrade, replacing its base stations' existing Ericsson 2G and 3G cabinets with one Huawei SingleRAN cabinet. The lone cabinet will deliver 2G and 3G services to Vodafone customers and will also support Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage.
In a statement, the company said it plans to begin offering LTE services later this year.
"Huawei's SingleRAN solution will enable Vodafone to upgrade to 4G or LTE at the flick of a switch, with the first LTE next generation services expected to come online later this year," the company said in a statement.
Vodafone pointed to trials it had conducted with Huawei last year in the 1800MHz spectrum when asked for further details, but did not comment on where services would become available.
Vodafone's plans to launch LTE services follow on from Telstra's announcement earlier this year that it plans to have 4G services up and running in a number of metropolitan and regional centres by the end of 2011.
Vodafone's upgrade will see network engineers start work in the early hours of next Tuesday morning on five sites between Ourimbah and Toukley on the Central Coast. After the upgrade is completed at these five sites, the engineering team will return after the Easter and Anzac Day long weekend to commence upgrades at 39 other base stations between Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.
These areas are expected to be completed by 3 May, when six weeks of network testing will begin, the company's chief technology officer Michael Young said in a statement.
"Our plan is to minimise disruption to customers in the area and absolutely maximise network performance in Newcastle, the Hunter and the Central Coast region before moving on to other regions of Australia," he said. "The changes to our network equipment will happen overnight, but the actual improvements in network performance and experience will take a couple of months to be fully realised."
Vodafone has advised that there will be a two-hour outage for customers in the early hours of the morning when these upgrades occur but customers in the area will be told of this downtime via an SMS alert prior to the upgrade and emergency calls will not be affected by the outage.
Over the next 18 months, Vodafone will replace equipment in over 5800 sites, and install equipment in 2200 new base stations.