In an interview with PC Advisor, Tony Baird, Vodafone New Zealand’s head of networks, has revealed that the cellco intends to trial voice-over-Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) technology before the end of 2014. Baird commented: ‘We are also doing a VoLTE trial this calendar year. That’s our first step to IP multimedia subsystem [IMS]. With the TelstraClear acquisition we have got a whole pile of legacy switching equipment. We are seeing all [that] switching equipment coming together with IMS over the next couple of years. There is a huge infrastructure investment coming through. Ultimately you will be able to have landlines, mobiles, all using the same technology’.
Meanwhile, in terms of Vodafone’s LTE coverage, Baird commented: ‘Over the next few years our focus will be really on making sure that the 4G footprint is national. We will be at about 65% population coverage really soon. We are over 60% today. To get the first 50% is quite simple, to get the last 50% it is very hard. You will be seeing the vast majority of our spectrum holdings being used for 4G’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, late last week Vodafone New Zealand became the first of the country’s cellcos to switch on commercial 700MHz 4G LTE mobile services, with a launch in the rural area of Papakura. In October 2013 Vodafone won its 700MHz allocation in the digital dividend auction alongside rivals Telecom New Zealand and 2degrees. The UK-backed operator spent NZD66 million (USD54.5 million, plus goods and services tax [GST]) for a 2×15MHz block.