Launch plans for 4G mobile broadband over 700MHz
Telecom announces launch plans for 4G mobile broadband services over 700 MHz
Telecom, soon to be Spark New Zealand, announced today it intends to launch new 4G services in late August that will extend and accelerate the rollout of high speed mobile broadband across New Zealand.
The new services will utilise spectrum in the 700 MHz band that Telecom has acquired in a recent Government auction.
“Telecom now owns the largest block of 700 MHz spectrum. This has given us the confidence to accelerate our plans to roll out 4G services on 700 MHz,” Chief Operating Officer David Havercroft said.
“From late August, our 700 MHz network will be launched and open for commercial traffic in the Waikato region, where we have already been trialling the technology since May. The trial has gone extremely well, with the services performing above expectation and with very high speeds shown.”
Telecom launched 4G services utilising existing spectrum in the 1800 MHz range in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in November last year and has continued to rapidly extend its 4G footprint into many other parts of New Zealand using this spectrum throughout 2014. However the superior performance and economics of the 700 MHz spectrum band will allow for a more extensive and rapid rollout of 4G mobile broadband services in less densely populated and rural areas.
At launch, Telecom will have 11 cell sites on 700 MHz across the Waikato region including central Hamilton, Morrisonville and surrounding areas. The rollout will then extend by Christmas to a number of other initial target areas of high rural demand for mobile broadband services, including some RBI sites.
Although there will be a limited range of devices available in August, by the end of the year Telecom will have a mobile device portfolio of approximately 10 devices that will be 700 MHz compatible. Telecom is working with leading mobile manufacturers on the best portfolio line up for Telecom customers. This will expand into the New Year and as the 700 MHz technology rolls out across the globe.
Mr Havercroft said: “We invested $158 million in the government auction, more than double any of our competitors, to acquire more 700 MHz spectrum than any other operator. This will provide significant benefits to customers in terms of the potential speed and capacity of our mobile broadband services. The more of this 700MHz spectrum an operator has, the faster the speeds it will be capable of offering and the more data it can carry.”
“We have paid a premium to acquire our spectrum at the lower end of the band, which means Telecom devices will be more compatible when roaming in Australia. This will also be a big advantage accessing a wider range of devices during the first few years of 700MHz 4G.
“This demonstrates Telecom’s absolute commitment to being the leader in mobile and data network capability, and provides a strong foundation for Telecom to continue to deliver world class mobile and data services to New Zealanders across the country,” Mr Havercroft commented.
“We’ve now got a leading data network integrating 3G, 4G, WiFi, ADSL, VDSL and Fibre, backed up by a nationwide optical transport network that is underpinning excellent connectivity for customers. With the launch of our 700 MHz spectrum network, we are accelerating our plans to help unleash New Zealand’s data, mobility and digital services future.”
New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to clear and reallocate a portion of the 700 MHz band (otherwise known as the Digital Dividend spectrum) to support mobile broadband usage. The 700 MHz band is the spectrum freed up by the switchover to digital television.
The lower the radio spectrum frequency, the better its signal propagation characteristics. In the case of 4G mobile, a 700 MHz cell site will cover an area 4-6 times larger than an equivalent 1800 MHz cell site and a 700 MHz signal will propagate through the walls of buildings 4-6 times better than an 1800 MHz signal.
That’s why 700MHz spectrum is the “beachfront property” of 4G mobile. It’s this 700 MHz spectrum that will enable 4G mobile to be delivered as a high quality data service nationwide. There is only 45 MHz of bandwidth available for use in the 700 MHz spectrum band. Telecom bought 20 MHz, Vodafone 15 MHz and 2Degrees 10 MHz
For 4G mobile devices to work on the 700 MHz band, they need to be equipped with the appropriate antennae and radio equipment. Early deployments of 700MHz around the world are mostly at the lower end of the spectrum range. So having spectrum at the lower end is a big advantage for accessing a wider range of devices during the first few years of 700MHz 4G.
Furthermore in New Zealand’s most important roaming market, Australia, only the lower end of the spectrum was purchased in their auction. This compatibility is expected to improve the roaming experience for Telecom customers.
Although the superior 700MHz spectrum holding gives Telecom a significant advantage, it doesn’t mean switching off 1800MHz for 4G. Telecom will continue to use 1800MHz as well as 700MHz to give customers the best possible coverage.