Vodafone 3G hits 80 per cent

Vodafone today said it would hit its deadline of turning on 3G mobile services in regional areas by the first week of May.

Vodafone today said it would hit its deadline of turning on 3G mobile services in regional areas by the first week of May.

The carrier announced that services would be completed and turned on tomorrow for major regional centres — bringing its 3G coverage to 80 per cent of the population. The company has also announced a new set of plans which will launch on Monday, with its $69 cap contract netting users a monthly data allowance of 1GB and its $99 single business cap giving 2GB.

When Vodafone announced the May completion date for this portion of the roll-out last month, the company also set the date for the second stage of the upgrade at 31 August 2009. When that goes live Vodafone 3G coverage will reach over 94 per cent of the Australian population.

The $500 million roll-out was originally scheduled to be completed by Christmas last year, but in October Vodafone came out with the news that the program would be delayed by months. The portion of the network it shared with Optus — 63 per cent of the planned coverage — had been completed, but the part that Vodafone was rolling out alone was not.

The delay was laid at Ericsson's door, with Vodafone CTO Andy Reeves saying that it was taking the vendor longer than originally anticipated to complete the project. Optus has brought its coverage to 96 per cent while Telstra has 99 per cent coverage.