Vodafone to jump into bed with rival Optus as it seeks to to help its ailing coverage.
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I got a text this week stating “Vodafone’s network is in your area. Your service may be affected (1:30-8am) 01/05 -07/05),”
And, as sure as night follows day, network connection to the web was super slow at times.
But this ongoing interruption isn’t all for nothing it seems.
The telco is to add more than 1,800 new base stations to its network, with a little help from Optus and 3 and is also upgrading all its existing stations.
Vodafone has expanded on a network joint venture with rival Optus, announced today, to access around 400 of their base station sites and to build 500 new, shared sites over the next four years, both 3G and 4G.
The Voda-Optus deal includes a roaming agreement, which willsee Voda users will gain access to “hundreds” of additional base stations in outer metropolitan and regional areas, increasing coverage to 96% of the population.
Optus customers will also receive wider coverage and will be able to access to nearly 1,000 additional mobile sites, strengthening its 3G and fledgling 4G services in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.
And Voda has already started adding 900 base stations to its network from the 3 network, which it has merged with.
The additions will give Voda customers will wider coverage “at selected locations in all capital cities and regional areas” Vodafone Hutchinson Australia CEO Bill Morrow, said today.
This 1800 figure is on top of the 8000 network stations troubled Vodafone has at present, with some of the 900 ‘3’ stations included in this figure.
However, the deal with telco No. 2 Optus is still subject to approval by the completion watchdog, ACCC, and won’t kick in if approved until April 2013, Vodafone said.
And after the Vodafail catastrophe last year, which saw thousands flee the network, Vodafone say it has invested more than $1 billion in its new network, and is making “significant progress” on the rollout, with more than 1,100 new 850MHz 3G sites now operating and 400 to come.
The new 850MHz 3G network layer delivers improved coverage, reducing network blackspots and dropped calls, and enhancing web experience on smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband units.
But Voda users in NSW may suffer more network issues dropping this week, as the telco are upgrading its existing bases with single RAM 2G, 3G and 4G ready equipment, a company spokesperson told SmartHouse.
Customers who use nearby base stations were sent the SMS informing them the network may be down.
However, work usually takes place between 11 pm and 6am to minimise disruption but the stations are usually off air for 2-3 hours at most.
The Sydney metro area is one of the last stops on this upgrade, having already completed 5000 (out of 8000) base stations at Tas, most of Victoria, ACT, SA and WA.
But there’s is also some work left to do in Brisbane and Victoria as well as Sydney.
And Vodafone’s new CEO Bill Morrow, said despite its trouble the network is ” is committed to developing a network that provides excellent coverage for our customers.”
“We’ve listened to our customers and we’re responding to their demands by delivering a better, faster, more reliable network across Australia.”
“The expansion to our coverage is a significant step forward and is part of our evolution toward higher performance network speeds that will ultimately lead to our introduction of 4G.
And as Telstra and Optus already have 4G network in place, Vodafone spokesperson confirmed its 4G LTE network will go live in the “not too distant future.”
And the leg up from Optus should help.