Vodafone commits to 2G network

Business continuity and machine-to-machine applications cited as reasons to keep 2G network

Vodafone will retain its 2G network to 2020 and beyond, says Vodafone CTO Sandra Pickering.

Despite upgrading its network to ensure faster connectivity speeds for mobile data, Pickering says Vodafone will continue to support its 2G platform for two reasons – business continuity during crisis management and machine-to-machine applications.

In the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake she says Vodafone “turned down 3G” to allow people to text on the 2G network. “Without our 2G network we couldn’t have kept coverage as long was we did with the massive power outages in the city. To me that’s the critical thing about 2G and why we should retain it.”

Vodafone New Zealand also supports more machine-to-machine applications on its 2G network than any other division in the global Vodafone group, Pickering says. These are being driven by the energy and agricultural industries.

Vodafone’s machine-to-machine customers include McCarthy Transport, JTC Viticulture, E Road (Electronic Road User Charging), AMS Vector (smart metering), Outpost Centre (smart water metering) and Gronet (soil moisture monitoring).

Network strategies director Suella Hansen says the amount of data used by machine-to-machine applications is very small so the 2G platform can continue to be used. “This assumes of course that the network stays available and the operators don’t want to use the spectrum for something else,” she says.

Hansen points out that smartphones use more power and require recharging more frequently than the older 2G handsets. So in an emergency situation, an older 2G handset would last longer.

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