More than 1.5 million Vodafone customers are expected to be better off under a new plan that will see the provider re-allocating its 850MHz spectrum holding to boost 4G coverage across Australia.
The plan was announced following news thathave begun offering access to 700MHz 4G networks in a select number of cities and regional areas across Australia.
Unlike Telstra and Optus, Vodafone is not opening up any new spectrum holdings but rather "re-farming" existing spectrum -- this will broaden 4G coverage to reach 95 percent of Australia's metropolitan population by the end of 2014. The provider is promising "high-quality indoor mobile coverage" and "superfast data speeds" with the spectrum, which will complement its existing 1800MHz spectrum band.
According to Vodafone, "4G customers will immediately benefit from the switchover" as the "majority" of 4G tablets and smartphones are already compatible with the network. Chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen said this was a distinct advantage of the 850MHz spectrum over the 700MHz spectrum band acquired by Telstra and Optus in 2013.
"Australian smartphone customers already have handsets that will work on Vodafone's low-band 4G 850MHz network," he said. "However, nearly all smartphones that have been sold since the introduction of 4G in Australia do not support the APT-700MHz spectrum. Customers on other networks will therefore require a new device in order to experience low-band 4G services.
"It's getting harder for our competitors to justify charging more," he added. "Our customers are enjoying our new network and those who have recently joined us are impressed how far we've come."
Vodafone has trialled the re-farmed 4G spectrum at more than 40 sites across the greater Newcastle area in NSW, testing a "wide range" of 4G-compatible devices on the network.