Vodafone Australia opens 4G up to new customers

Close to a month after switching on 4G for existing customers, Vodafone is opening the network up to new customers based in metropolitan areas.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Australia's third-largest mobile carrier Vodafone Australia has opened up its 4G network to new customers on Tuesday, after having a soft launch with existing customers in June.

Since the soft launch last month, it is believed that there are now hundreds of thousands of existing Vodafone customers accessing the 4G network on more than 300 towers that have been equipped with 4G across Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Newcastle, Gold Coast, and Wollongong.

The telco will now open it up to new customers, with 10 4G-enabled phones already on offer, including the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 5, Sony Xperia Z, and Nokia Lumia 820 handsets. The company also yesterday released new tablet plans, with the new iPad able to access the 4G network.

A Vodafone spokesperson told ZDNet that the company does not have any plans for 4G dongles at this stage.

Vodafone is aiming to triple the number of towers it has to well over 1,000 by the end of 2013, as the company begins to look to make a comeback and win over at least some of the 1.5 million customers who have abandoned the company in the last three years on the back of network issues in 2010 and 2011.

The company has invested over AU$1 billion in overhauling its 3G network since then, and is now boasting Vodafone's "spectrum advantage" in the 1800MHz band for its 4G network, where Vodafone has 2x20MHz of contiguous spectrum.

"Our current advantage is our spectrum. Put simply, the wider the radio channel, the fatter the pipe, which translates into faster data speeds for customers," Vodafone's chief network officer Benoit Hanssen said in a statement.

"Vodafone is currently the only carrier that has this spectrum band in all five major mainland state capital cities."

The company still has a long way to go to catch up to Telstra and Optus, both in terms of network size and customers on 4G. Optus has over 750 4G sites today, while Telstra turned on its 1,000th base station in May. Telstra has sold 2.1 million 4G devices at last reporting, while Optus has sold 785,000 4G handsets.

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