iPhone 5 reshapes mobile network arms race as Telecom promises turbocharged 3G by Christmas
Telecom has joined the dual carrier party.
The telco says it will have DC HSPA+ on its network by Christmas, and half the country covered by the end of next year.
DC-HSPA+ is a souped-up type of 3G that allows for the kind of superfast speeds usually associated with 4G.
In the run-up to the iPhone 5 luanch, Vodafone made hay out of the fact it was the only telco with DC HSPA+.
And iPhone 5 is very much the operative device here, as only it - and the new iPad and a Vodafone data stick - support DC HSPA+ (although more devices are expected from other brands).
Yesterday, 2degrees surprised the industry by saying it had DC HSPA+ on 10% of its network, which would rise to 50% by the end of next year. The company is not selling the iPhone 5, but is selling a Nano-SIM card that can be used with it, and offering rebates for people who bring an Apple handset to its network.
The technology allows for mobile data downloads of up to 42Mbit/s (or around four times the speed of most DSL connections, and about half the speed of fibre). However, you'll only hit full tilt if no one else is on the network. NBR has found real-life HSPA+ speeds of 9Mbit/s to around 26Mbit/s - still the quickest around.
Telecom Retail CEO Chris Quin says 2500 people in Auckland have been on a trial.
The move by Telecom is a surprise in that the company has previously only promoted a LTE (Long Term Evolution) or 4G trial.
At its annual result, Telecom pushed the 4G trial, but its CFO admitted there was only capital expediture allowed for a limited trial, not any rollout over the next year.
So far, only Vodafone has gone as far as placing DC HSPA+ coverage maps on its website.
Right now, Vodafone says it has 12% DC HSPA+ coverage, centred on the of the Auckland and Wellington CBDs. By December this year 32% of its network will use technology 42Mbit/s technology, increasing to 52% by March 2013. That means all of Auckland, parts of Wellington and parts of Christchurch will be covered by December this year, and all of Wellington by March.
Although it has declined to say exactly where it has installed DC HSPA+, 2degrees told NBR it is currently in parts of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Telecom did not immediately respond to a request to provide a coverage map, or say how much of its network would be covered by Chrismas, and where. [UPDATE: A spokeswoman said the "first stage" would be around the country but concentrated on Auckland and Wellington.]