As Telstra and Optus prepare their 4G networks for the launch of the iPhone 5 next week, Vodafone Hutchison Australia has today launched its "3G+" upgrades in eight locations across the country.
"3G+" or "3G Plus" is the term that both Vodafone and Optus are using to refer to dual-carrier HSPA+ (DC-HSPA) services. As part of its AU$1.7 billion network overhaul with Huawei, Vodafone said today that the 3G+ component of this network upgrade will be switched on in parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Perth, Adelaide, and Newcastle.
Vodafone is promising customers speeds of between 2 megabits per second (Mbps) and 16Mbps in those areas covered by the roll-out.
At the same time, Vodafone announced that it would indeed stock the new iPhone 5 from next Friday, which is compatible with the 4G networks of both Optus and Telstra. Vodafone said that the phone will be compatible with the 3G+ network, and the company reconfirmed its commitment to launch 4G services in "early 2013." Vodafone told ZDNet that it is likely that this will be towards the end of Q1 or at the start of Q2 in 2013.
The company is struggling to bounce back following its major network issues in 2011. In the first six months of 2012, Vodafone lost 178,000 customers and reported a loss of AU$260.2 million.
Vodafone's 4G launch will coincide with the expected auction of the 700MHz digital-dividend spectrum that will likely be used by the telcos for 4G networks, but Vodafone has indicated that it may skip this auction in favour of just rolling out 4G in the 1800MHz spectrum band, where it has a large chunk of spectrum already.
None of the telcos have announced pricing around the iPhone 5 at this stage, but Apple will begin taking orders from tomorrow, ahead of the launch in Australia next Friday.