More LTE spectrum rolls in for Vodafone Australia

Vodafone Hutchison Australia has bolstered its 1800MHz spectrum holding with an eye on future LTE roll-outs, following a deal with state rail authorities. The operator has said that an agreement between itself and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), which holds the licenses to the 1800MHZ spectrum, to create contiguous blocks of spectrum in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, had been approved by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

“We have now organised our spectrum into contiguous blocks in mainland capital cities that will support the roll out of LTE in all capital cities, once mass market handsets and mobile broadband devices are available at mass market prices,” Vodafone chief executive Nigel Dews said in a statement .“We thank the railways for their co-operation to help reach a better public policy outcome.”

While the 1800MHz licenses remain with the ARA, they are set to start expiring in 2013 and the ACMA said that it retains the right to offer these up for auction after this date. This would be in the interests of carriers such as Vodafone which are looking to roll-out LTE.

1800MHz is proving to be crucial for the success of LTE in Australia as 700MHz digital dividend spectrum will not be available for auction until the end of 2012. In the meantime, all operators in the country have announced plans to roll-out next generation services using 1800MHz spectrum.

Vodafone announced in February that it would be upgrading all of its base stations with equipment from vendor Huawei, enabling it to roll out a new 850MHz network and conduct trials of LTE on 1800MHz. Telstra has announced plans to roll out LTE by the end of the year using reframed 1800MHz spectrum, while Optus said it would launch during 2012.

The LTE North America 2011 conference takes place on the 8-9 November 2011 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas, USA.

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