2degrees, New Zealand’s third largest mobile operator by subscribers, has announced that it will not launch 3G services until 2010 at the earliest. Chief executive Eric Hertz said that while the cellco’s network was 3G capable, the service will not be on offer until the first half of next year: ‘As we turn on [the network] and optimise it, it will take some time to make sure the quality is good… There will be a strategic and sequenced roll-out of additional services.’ The company plans to launch services based on a W-CDMA platform with built in HSPA+ evolution, capable of delivering peak download speeds of 4Mbps. 2degrees, which launched its first 2G services on 5 August 2009, has access to 3G spectrum through its long-time shareholder Hautaki Trust. The spectrum was set aside for Hautaki, representing pan-Maori interests, to purchase at a discounted price when it was auctioned by the Government in 2000.
Meanwhile, incumbent operator Telecom New Zealand has reportedly shelved its plans to test LTE services across its CDMA networks, and will instead focus on bringing the 4G platform to its new 3G ‘XT’ network. Spokesman Ian Bonnar said: ‘As we have invested in UMTS, and that is the network we are going to be pushing over the next few years, it seems sensible to evolve it.’ The company now plans to roll out LTE-based services in 2012.