Vodafone CEO challenges Telecom's 3G claims

Vodafone New Zealand's CEO Russell Stanners says he was surprised by yesterday's 3G mobile network investment by Telecom - he was surprised because he expected the company to announce it was turning its new network on.

"That they're not doing it until June is the new news," he says.

He describes the network as "son of T3G", Telecom's CDMA-based EV-DO 3G network effort from 2004, which was "the world's best 3G network in a media campaign".

"It existed in the media, but not in the field," he says.

Stanners says its a bit of an exaggeration saying the network is the largest and fastest when Vodafone already has an operational 3G network across 70% of its 2G coverage area.

"We have 400,000 customers already using it," he says.

However, Stanners says the network build will be good for consumers.

"It's out of the cupboard and they're looking to go toe to toe with Vodafone, which is fantastic," he says, adding it's "all catch-up for Telecom".

Stanners also challenges Telecom's claims it will have the largest range of handsets available.

"In June next year we'll see who has the biggest range,"

Vodafone has already launched the iPhone in New Zealand and this month announced the imminent arrival of Research in Motion's response, the BlackBerry Storm.

As for the new services Telecom is promising, well, Vodafone already has those too, says Stanners.

He says it is also good to have clarity that CDMA is at an end, with Telecom opting for a Wideband CDMA rollout. He says consumers will now be asking why they should buy a CDMA phone when it's going to be replaced.

He says time has proven Vodafone's decision to back WCDMA right, despite Telecom inisiting otherwise in the past.

Yesterday, Telecom announced a $574 million investment in a new Wideband CDMa network on the 850MHz band, to be operational nationwide by June next year.

The company said WCDMA at 850MHz is "the smartest technology choice for New Zealand's unique geography and conditions".

The investment, it said, will mean customers have superior network performance, handsets and devices and new content services.

“Telecom’s new mobile network will be superior on every level: the best nationwide coverage, the fastest internet on your mobile, a wide range of world-leading handsets, as well as better content, music and business applications," CEO Paul Reynolds said.

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