Vodafone Australia has outlined plans to ‘significantly boost’ 4G coverage for more than 1.5 million customers using its 850MHz spectrum. According to the cellco, by refarming its frequencies in the aforementioned band it expected to offer 4G coverage to 95% of the country’s metropolitan population by the end of this year. Trials of LTE over the 850MHz band have reportedly just been completed by the operator in the greater Newcastle area in New South Wales. During these tests the cellco said it tested a wide-range of 4G compatible devices at more than 40 sites.
Meanwhile, the operator claims that existing Vodafone 4G customers will immediately benefit from the switchover without having to make any changes to their handsets, settings or plans; it notes that the majority of 4G smartphones and tablets are already designed to work on the 850MHz spectrum Vodafone Australia plans to use. Drawing a comparison with the incompatibility of many devices with spectrum in the 700MHz band, such as was acquired by rivals Telstra and Optus in the state’s May 2013 auction, the cellco’s chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen noted: ‘Australian smartphone customers already have handsets that will work on Vodafone’s low-band 4G 850MHz network. 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.’