Vodafone Australia’s AUD500 million (USD346 million) upgrade to its 3G network has been delayed after vendor Ericsson requested more time to finish the build, Australian IT is reporting. Vodafone had set a self-imposed deadline of December 2008 for the work to be completed but it is now expected that the upgrade will be finished in the first half of 2009. Approximately 50% of the expected new base stations have been built and the core network has been upgraded, and it is understood that the main cause of the delay is concern surrounding network integration; Vodafone’s chief technology officer, Andy Reeves, claimed, ‘The build itself is well on track it’s just the integration into the live network which is causing some issues. Our competitors have suffered a number of outages and so we’re very conscious that we want to keep our network clean of outages leading up to and through the Christmas period.’
Vodafone first announced plans to extend its 3G network footprint to 95% of the country in December 2007, with Vodafone CEO Russell Hewitt claiming at the time that it was the operator’s ‘number one priority for 2008’. The 3G infrastructure that is being built as part of the joint venture between Vodafone and Optus is believed to have been completed already, representing 63% of Vodafone’s total planned coverage in Australia.