2degrees is finally getting around to a 4G upgrade of its network (Vodafone begain its rollout in February last year, Telecom in November).
The technology will be tested in Auckland from next week, then go live in the city's CBD from July.
Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch will be added by the end of the year.
the first phase of the trial is closed to staff only.
2degrees' network partner, Huawei, will be responsible for the 4G build, a 2degrees spokeswoman tells NBR (Huawei is also Telecom's main technology partner on its 4G rollout, displacing long-time partner Alcatel-Lucent).
4G provides much faster mobile downloads, and better streaming and video.
Vodafone and Telecom have been a little sluggish to raise mobile data caps to suit, however. Hopefully the new competition will nudge things along on that front.
2degrees was a fierce critic of the recent digital dividend 700MHz spectrum auction, which saw Telecom bid for the most spectrum, followed by Vodafone. 2degrees said its rivals had deeper pockets, and would use the extra 4G-friendly spectrum to increase their existing market lead in higher-yielding contract customers.
However, director of corporate affairs & wholesale Mathew Bolland also told NBR that 2degrees has enough 4G spectrum for its rollout planned so far.
The auction of 700MHz spectrum freed up by the analogue TV switchover, which wrapped up on January 22, saw 2degrees bid $44 million for 10MHz of paired spectrum, Vodafone: (which had the largest existing 4G holding ahead of the auction) bid $66 million for 2x15 MHz and Telecom bid a total of $149 million for 2x20 MHz.
Earlier, 2degrees spent $10 million buying a chunk of 1800MHz spectrum (hich is also 4G-friendly) from Telsta as the Aussie telco looked to ease the path toward regulatory approval of TelstraClear's sale to Vodafone.
RAW DATA: 2degrees statement
2degrees to launch 4G trial
- 2degrees to begin 4G trial on April 1
- 4G live for 2degrees customers in central Auckland in July
- 4G sites to triple in Auckland with rollout to wider region by end of the year
- 4G available in other main centres - Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch - by the end of the year
- 4G to complement new “boosted” 3G service across 2degrees network
2degrees is about to begin its journey into fourth generation mobile with the start of its 4G trial in Auckland next week.
The three-month closed trial will involve 10 4G sites in central Auckland using 2degrees’ 1800MHz spectrum. The company expects to launch 4G commercially in Auckland in July, followed by the wider Auckland region and other main centres - Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch - by the end of the year. The rollout in to provincial areas will continue in to 2015.
2degrees CEO Stewart Sherriff says the company is now at a point where it is ready for the move to 4G.
“As the newest player in the market, we have taken a very systematic approach to the rollout of our network to ensure we get it right for our customers. We started with 2G, then added 3G which has been the absolute focus of our efforts over the past three years. With our customer’s ever-increasing appetite for data coupled with more LTE-capable handsets available, we feel it is now the right time to extend our capabilities to the next generation of mobile.”
Mr Sherriff says the company’s 4G network will be complemented by a significantly stronger 3G network.
“As part of our 4G readiness program, we have invested heavily in extending our 3G coverage over the past year. This has included the installation of 3G at 900MHz across all of our sites which, in effect, is providing a ‘boosted’ 3G service. It has meant that in areas where customers previously could only get 2G service, many now get 3G as we have more overlap between our sites and great in-building penetration. This, coupled with our existing HSPA+ network and recently launched HD voice, has already made a significant difference to the quality and speed our customers are experiencing on our network.”
Mr Sherriff says the company is looking forward to taking the next step in to the future.
“Digital connectivity will be made ubiquitous by 4G. While the full potential of 4G is still yet to be explored, what we can be sure of is that it will allow for a whole new world of opportunity that our network is now ready for,” he says.
“Our customers are using more than triple the amount of data they were two years ago and it has become an integral part of our work and personal lives. There is no doubt that 4G will transform our lives further, and we are looking forward to the exciting possibilities it will provide to our customers.”
For more information – go to http://www.2degreesmobile.co.