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Vodafone bringing 4G network to more MVNOs

Seven MVNOs will be able to use Vodafone's 4G coverage across Australia as of July 6, including Macquarie Telecom and Lebara.

Vodafone Australia has announced that it will be allowing mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) Macquarie Telecom, Lebara, Pivotel Prepaid, Hello Mobile, and Go Talk to access its 4G network.

Kogan Mobile and TPG Mobile already have access to the Vodafone 4G network.

"We've invested billions of dollars in the Vodafone network over recent years, and we're very pleased to be offering our fast, reliable 4G services to more of our MVNOs," Vodafone head of Wholesale Paul Tierney said.

"Provided they have a 4G capable device, customers of these MVNOs will be able to enjoy the Vodafone 4G network for browsing the internet, and streaming, uploading, and downloading content."

Lebara will gain access on June 30, followed by Macquarie Telecom, Pivotel Prepaid, Hello Mobile, and Go Talk on July 6.

The announcement by Vodafone follows Telstra in April making its 4G network available to MVNOs AldiMobile, Woolworths, Telechoice, and Better Life.

Meanwhile, Amaysim and its MVNO brands Vaya, Live Connected, and Zen Connect have been reselling Optus' 4G network over mobile services and fixed-line broadband for around two years, as has Virgin Mobile.

Vodafone has been expanding its 4G network nationwide, purchasing AU$68 million worth of 1800MHz spectrum in February during the auction held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The 1800MHz band is already being used in metropolitan areas by Vodafone, Telstra, and Optus to deliver their 4G networks, but was primarily in use in remote Australia for point-to-point backhaul services. The reallocation of the spectrum will ensure that it is used to bring faster connection speeds to those living in regional areas.

During the auction, Vodafone won two lots in North Queensland, spending AU$7.75 million; one lot in South Queensland, for AU$7.91 million; four lots in the Australian Capital Territory, for a hefty AU$37 million; two lots in Tasmania, for AU$12.87 million; and two lots in Regional WA, for AU$2.5 million.

It also refarmed its 850MHz spectrum band to bring coverage to regional and metropolitan Queensland, NSW, and the ACT at the end of last year; upgraded more than 3,300 network sites over the course of 2015; proposed to the Australian government that it be permitted to pay AU$594.3 million for 2x 10MHz in the 700MHz spectrum band that was unsold in the 2013 auction; and last month committed to spending AU$9 million on constructing 32 mobile base stations across the country to improve telecommunications coverage in regional areas.

According to an OpenSignal report from earlier this month, Vodafone now matches Telstra in terms of the availability of its 4G network.

"Though Telstra outperformed in speed, the country's smallest operator Vodafone kept pace with the Australian giant when it came to offering a consistent LTE connection," the report said.

"Vodafone and Telstra were statistically tied in network availability, at 76 percent."

Vodafone was also tied first for 4G latency, at 54.71ms, and 3G download speeds, at 4.76Mbps, and took the prize for best 3G latency, at 72.02ms. It had the slowest download speed over 4G, however, at 18.49Mbps, while Optus stood at 19.18Mbps and Telstra at 23.6Mbps.

In April, Vodafone announced that its 4G network covers 95.3 percent of the Australian population, or 23 million people. Vodafone Australia CEO Inaki Berroeta said this signalled a 40 percent rise in its network size over the past four years.