Vodafone revs up speed, but no devices

Network upgrade to quadruple current speeds

Vodafone has leapfrogged Telecom’s XT network, upgrading its network to 28.8Mbit/s download speeds, but devices supporting the higher speeds are not currently available.

Telecom’s XT 3G network has a theoretical maximum download speed of 21Mbit/s currently; upload speeds are 5.76Mbit/s for both networks.

Vodafone general manager of networks Tony Baird is being coy on what the upgrade will actually deliver for customers. “The speed is all relative to that which they are experiencing today,” he says. A simple answer is that customer can expect up to four times the speed they have today, Baird says.

He says devices supporting the 28.8Mbit/s speed “are in the pipeline”, with a data stick likely to be released first, but he couldn’t give a date.

As for pricing, Baird says new and larger plans to match the higher data speeds will “definitely” be introduced.

The HSPA+ upgrade is underway in Auckland, and will be deployed in the main population centres by the year-end. Vodafone will apply the upgrade to both the 2100MHz and 900MHz 3.5G networks that it operates nationwide, Baird says.

Testing by Computerworld shows Vodafone’s network being capable of 3-5Mbit/s downloads, meaning the upgraded variant should be faster than most landline DSL connections today, if Baird’s speed prediction holds true.

Latency will also be better in the upgraded network, making connections more responsive. Again, Baird would not quantify the improvements.

Backhaul to cell sites has been upgraded to cope with the 28.8Mbit/s upgrade, Baird says but he refused to give any further detail.

Vodafone is spending “in the tens of millions of dollars” on the upgrade, Baird says, with the company’s equipment supplier being Nokia-Siemens Networks.

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