Vodafone has today announced its first rural trial of 4G technology in the Lake Brunner area of the South Island's West Coast. The trial will run until the end of July using 700 MHz technology.
On the same cell site, Vodafone has enabled 4G using 1800 MHz spectrum, meaning any Vodafone customers in the coverage area with a 4G-capable device and qualifying plan will also be able to use the service.
4G – the world’s fastest mobile network technology – has been available on Vodafone in parts of Auckland since 28 February and will be rolled out to Christchurch in May, Wellington by September and 15 other cities across New Zealand by Christmas.
Tony Baird, Vodafone's Head of Networks, says the Lake Brunner dual frequency trial will be carried out over several months allowing the company to demonstrate and test the benefits of 4G in a rural environment.
“4G technology has huge potential for rural New Zealand as it will drive productivity gains for this essential part of our economy. We are working in partnership with the government to bring broadband to rural communities through the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), and we have committed to making all the RBI sites upgradeable to LTE.
“Lake Brunner is an ideal test location as it has a number of different characteristics which mean we can test a number of things at the same time, including topography (meaning we can test the technology over land and water), geography (being surrounded by mountains means the radio frequency is relatively isolated) and cell tower type.”
“The trial will provide valuable data to support the eventual rollout of 4G to rural New Zealand and we are looking forward to working with the Lake Brunner community as we test this exciting new technology,” Tony says.
Grey District Mayor, Tony Kokshoorn, is thrilled with Vodafone’s 4G rural trial at Lake Brunner.
“The area has had a massive growth in tourism, as well as being home to many dairy farms that will all benefit from the services available on a 4G network. Lake Brunner is the preferred holiday destination of many Cantabrians, and this will allow them to stay connected with their businesses on the other side of the Alps. You will be able to experience the rainforest, fresh air and lakes, whilst enjoying the absolute latest in communication technology.”
The 700MHz spectrum (also known as the ‘Digital Dividend’) is being freed up for telecommunications services as the country switches over from analogue to digital television transmission.
Lake Brunner was selected as the trial site in part because analogue TV has already been turned off in the area.