National fixed and mobile operator Office des Postes et Telecoms de Nouvelle-Caledonie (OPT-NC) is to deploy 4G mobile services in New Caledonia, as part of its strategy plan ‘OPT2017’, according to online journal Megazap. The first 4G antennas are expected to be put in place in November/December this year, with the OPT-NC board saying that commercial offers could be in place by February 2015 under the branding ‘THD Mobile’. To support the 4G deployment, the operator intends to capitalise on its extensive 2G/3G+ network, which currently comprises 320 cell sites. In the first phase, OPT-NC intends to invest XPF1 billion (USD11.6 million) on the rollout of 150 4G sites. By 2017, the carrier says it will have extended the new network to more than 50% of the total sites on its network, which at that date will exceed 380 (2G/3G) sites. More than 85% of the population will be covered by 4G by the end of 2017, including all towns and main residential areas.
OPT-NC has seen a sharp rise in internet traffic in the past year or so, with volumes rising by 40% between January 2013 and March 2014. Further, OPT-NC reported a total of 255,522 mobile subscriptions as at the start of this year, a cellular penetration rate of 104%, noting that an extensive wireless coverage rollout in 2008 has significantly reduced the number of uncovered areas. At the same date there were a total of 44,000 mobile broadband internet users, of which more than 21,000 were signed up to its 3G ‘Mobile Internet’ offer.