Reports from New Zealand suggest that the country’s dominant telco is close to announcing the deployment of a new hybrid mobile system. A report from CommsDay claims that Telecom New Zealand is finalising a contract with Alcatel-Lucent which will see the telco rolling out a combined GSM/UMTS and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network. The operator currently owns a nationwide CDMA system, much of which has been upgraded with high speed EV-DO technology, and it plans to retain this network for data use. A new GSM-based system will be deployed alongside the CDMA infrastructure to handle voice calls, for the short term at least. It is thought that Telecom will use UMTS 3G technology on the GSM network and eventually all voice and data traffic will be carried on this network.
GSM/UMTS-based networks are more popular worldwide than Telecom’s current CDMA-based system, so the move to GSM will give its customers more options when roaming abroad. Telecom’s only rival in the New Zealand mobile market, UK-based Vodafone, already uses a GSM/UMTS system. A third network is currently being deployed by NZ Communications/Econet Wireless, while TelstraClear recently scrapped plans to roll out its own 3G system and will now offer services only via resale deals.
Meanwhile, the latest quarterly operational figures show that Telecom is continuing to close the gap on Vodafone in the mobile market. Telecom added 65,000 net new users in the first three months of 2007 while Vodafone added 44,000. Vodafone still leads the market, however, with 2.24 million customers, ahead of Telecom with 1.94 million.