New Zealand activates LTE700 networks

The 700MHz radio frequency is finding favour among New Zealand mobile operators with Vodafone this week switching on its commercial 700MHz LTE network, marking the activation of one of the first Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) 700 MHz networks in the world.

With speeds up to ten times faster than standard 3G services, Vodafone customers in Papakura will soon enjoy advanced mobile broadband services with superior network quality, speed and coverage, the carrier said.

Vodafone signed up Nokia Networks to deploy LTE coverage on the APT 700 MHz digital dividend spectrum band and make sure it is harmonised with several countries in the Asia Pacific region. The lower the radio spectrum frequency, the better its signal propagation characteristics so 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.

Over the last several years, digital dividend spectrum in the 700MHz and 800MHz bands has been made available around the world through the transition to digital TV, as frequencies previously used for UHF television broadcasts were re-farmed and re-auctioned. And while much of the world has moved ahead with 800MHz reallocation, 700MHz plans are still waiting to be finalised. In recent times there have been high hopes for the harmonisation of the 700MHz band on an international roaming level for LTE, with plans afoot to make use of the same 700MHz spectrum in the US, Asia Pacific and Europe because 700MHz is the third most widely used band for LTE deployments after 2.6GHz and 1800MHz (currently the clear leader).

The Asia Pacific implementation of the digital dividend frequency has already been identified for use in markets covering more than two billion people and the industry bodies are pushing for global adoption in order to facilitate LTE roaming.

The 9th annual LTE Asia conference is taking place on the 23rd-25th September 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Vodafone New Zealand Director of Technology, Sandra Pickering said kicking off the commercial 4G rollout to rural New Zealand is a major milestone: “There’s no question that 4G – particularly in rural areas – will deliver economic benefit and have strong impacts for productivity. Our focus this year is about expanding our 4G network to rural New Zealand with 700MHz…we’ll be activating 4G wherever possible on new Rural Broadband Initiative sites this year.”

Last month, Telecom New Zealand, in the midst of changing its name to Spark, said 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.

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