We already have 4G – Vodafone

UPDATE: 2degrees has now revealed its own DC HSPA+ roll-out.

By one definition of 4G – any mobile data connection faster than 21 megabits per second – Vodafone NZ is already there, CEO Russell Stanners told NBR ONLINE.

Some would only call a 4G connection 4G if it is underpinned by Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

But Mr Stanners noted all major carriers in the US claimed to be 4G at a time when only one (Verizon) actually had LTE.

Vodafone NZ is not calling its network 4G but, well, it could, he says.

On this note, he tells NBR that Vodafone plans to extend the fastest version of its current 3G network (Dual Carrier HSPA+) from 12% coverage of the Auckland and Wellington CBDs today. 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. RBI sites will also employ this technology as sites are upgraded and new sites are built.

Telecom and 2degrees don’t support DC HSPA+, leaving their 3G networks at half the theoretical maximum speed.

That’s not such a big issue for them today, because there are only two devices that support DC HSPA+: Vodafone’s top-end data stick, and the new iPad (and most people who buy an iPad plump for the wi-fi only version).

Mr Stanners told NBR he hoped the number of DC-capable devices would expand. It would be logical for Apple to extend 42Mbit/s Dual Carrier support from the new iPad to the new iPhone (widely presumed to be the subject of an Apple event scheduled for September 12).

But we’ll just have to wait and see, he says, with an expression indicating he already had a pretty good idea.

So what of LTE?
Mr Stanners says his company will be boots-and-all involved in the 700MHz spectrum auction the government has scheduled for later this year. But if it wins spectrum, it will prioritise rural areas.

Recommitted to Nokia-Siemens
Vodafone has recommitted to Nokia-Siemens as its network partner, Mr Stanners says.

Nokia-Siemens recently said it would layoff a quarter of its staff worldwide as it refocused on mobile broadband.

Across the Tasman, relations have been rocky, with Nokia Siemens talking Vodafone Australia to court over a performance bonus withdrawn by Vodafone following customer complaints.

Blithering speeds
Both Dual Carrier HSPA+ and LTE offer head-spinning speed. Nokia-Siemens' five-year roadmap has them hitting speeds of 336Mbit/s and 1Gibit/s (1000Mbit/s) respectively.

By comparison, fibre laid under the Ultrafast Broadband rollout can hit up to 100Mbit/s. 

Vodafone is sensible enough to caution those are theoretical maxium speeds.

Mr Stanners notes each is total bandwidth for a cellsite – so Joe Smartphone user will only only hit 1Gbit/s on this 2017 download if he's the only person using the nearest tower.

End of 2G handsets...
Mr Stanners said Vodafone will stop selling 2G devices this week. With 3G smartphones now selling for as little as $100, there was no point keeping lower-end devices in stock.

...but not 2G network
That doesn’t mean the end of Vodafone’s 2.5G/GPRSnetwork. Mr Stanners says it will be kept on well into the next decade for backup (easily swamped backup, NBR would say).

And, more so, for machine-to-machine connections, which are expected to rise as more smart meters and other SIM-card packing widgets are installed in homes, cars and various appliances.

Data explosion
Phone companies might be making only fractionally more revenue from mobile data, thanks to a reasonably robust price war, but usage has definitely gone through the roof.

Vodafone showed NBR figures showing its mobile traffic has increased 125% year-on-year.

Since 2008 (when the first iPhone was released) usage has jumped from 5 terabytes (5000GB) a month to 220 terabytes a month.

End to domestic bill shock; international help still on the way
Vodafone's Data Angel initiative has stopped domestic bill shock, Mr Stanners says.

Under the blanket scheme, a customer is sent a warning when they near their limit, then can't go over their limit until they make a choice between buying an extra data pack, or going onto a casual rate.

Data Angel has reduced the number of people who use mobile data at a casual rate by 80%, according to Vodafone figures.

Mr Stanners says the scheme would be extended to international roaming shortly.

Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees face possible regulation of transtasman roaming charges following a joint Australia-NZ government investigation which found charges high, and customers confused.

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18 Comments & Questions

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Loving the HSPA+ Dual Carrier support on Vodafone with a Nokia Lumia 900


Great stuff. Hope Nokia releases that model in NZ


awesome stuff, hope it releases in NZ.


Funny how fast connections are talked about yet you can still find spots where 2G GSM is the only connection available on Vodafone. how about they sort this first!


All well and good for those in those mentioned big centres... what about the rest of the country?


I call bull$hit on this stanners - Vodafone is far too reliant on digital microwave radio backhaul to deliver 4G like speeds to the market (hell most of us cant even get a working connection in 2G throughout parts of Auckland). Put simply, 4G type performance needs more than just radios capable of supporting it, it also needs lots of fibre connecting cell towers back to the network and Voda has virtually no fibre of its own (at least until the cardigan brigade say it can buy Telstraclear)

Also while HSPA+ DC is very zippy, what is its upstream performance (e.g from the phone to the tower and then the MSC?)

So there we have it - another PR puff piece for Voda as they spirit yet another wheelbarrow of cash out of NZ


Actuall Vodafone have 800+ sites connected via fibre with plenty of capcity on those links. The microwave solutions are also Ethernet which support over 400M+ on the last mile links. which then offload to fibre..

No PR BS been there and was apart of the design team..


Yes you are right to call BS, the advantage of 700MHz 4G is penetrating power into buildings and long distance across the countryside. The second point is useful in NZ where you could construct a network with the same coverage with half the number or cell sites as 3G. Which is a reason why cell cellphones will always cost more to use in NZ than countries like Singapore, we have small population spread over a huge area, so need more cell sites per customer.


Love your stuff Chris; good detail and great to hear tidbits from the inside. Hope you can extend this model to more organisations but of course requires similarly willing and candid source(s).


don't forget VF have been building new back haul for data since 2010. The DMC reliance is still there but as commercial fibre replaces copper that need for p2p microwave is going to disappear. That said MW is stepping up in speed all the time too.

Ah the good olde days when 1 E1 was enough for anyone....


does anybody really care that much about 4G speeds?

The most data intensive thing I use my phone for is youtube or quickflix, and even playing HD requires far less than 10Mbps. So why in the world should I get excited about 42Mbps? Big woop!


You are talking about diminishing returns. You can do almost anything with 1.5 megabit symmetrical connection except download a humongous file in seconds or stream HD content. These two things are not normally done on a cellphone. So further speed increases for phone handsets are not useful on a per handset basis. But can be useful when many people want to do ordinary low bandwidth things on the same cell site at the same time.


I was in Sydney and the US where I played with a number of LTE handsets. In use their data speed felt like HSPA and certainly not like the premium being charged for what equates to marketing BS


@GJ - fair comment but 800 sites on fibre still doesnt matter a pinch of Sh*t if there are still tousands of sites using Digital Microwave Radio. It may be rated as ethernet but in reality DMR does not cope with rain fade and congestion. In short VF's network is rubbish given their primary interest is meeting their UK parents profit targets rather than investing in NZ


Vodafone has over 1300+ sites and so cannot have thousands still on MW. DMR has moved on heaps with Ethernet Radio and links are designed with adaptive modulation, QoS Service awareness. All this helps with increased performance of the air interface channels that might be affected by bad weather. There are standards for these things like MEF. Ethernet Radio is going to play a big part in LTE and can handle the lastmile requirements to allow higher speeds in the rural areas where fibre is too costly


Mmmm smells like marketing BS to me!


Yep this story is preceded by a story about how Voda was fined $1m and most peoples finly tuned BS detectors are not going off??? Wake up poeples


Not BS - I Have seen 21-30Mbit on an iPad 3 on the Vodafone Network.



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