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Telecoms New Zealand to launch LTE 700MHz in August

Telecom New Zealand will make use of the 700MHz band

Incumbent carrier Telecom New Zealand, in the midst of changing its name to Spark, said Tuesday it intends to launch 4G LTE services in late August using the recently acquired licence for the 700MHz spectrum band. The move will supplement existing 4G services on offer in limited regions using the 1800MHz band.

From late August, the 700MHz network will be launched and open for commercial traffic in the Waikato region, where the company has already been trialling the technology since May. Telecom launched 4G services using existing spectrum in the 1800MHz range in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in November last year. However the superior performance and economics of the 700MHz spectrum band will allow for a more extensive and rapid rollout of 4G mobile broadband services in less densely populated and rural areas, Telecom said.

At launch, the carrier will have 11 cell sites on 700MHz across the Waikato region including central Hamilton, Morrisonville and surrounding areas. The rollout will then extend by by year end to a number of other initial target areas of high rural demand for mobile broadband services.

“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.

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 ten devices that will be 700MHz compatible.

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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,” he said.

The lower the radio spectrum frequency, the better its signal propagation characteristics. In the case of LTE, a 700MHz cell site will cover an area four to six times larger than an equivalent 1800MHz cell site and a 700MHz signal will propagate through the walls of buildings four to six times better.


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