Following on from reports two months ago that it had contracted Chinese vendor Huawei to replace 2G and 3G equipment across its network as part of an overarching project which aims to boost both coverage and the download speeds on offer, Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) is preparing to kick start the upgrades. According to ZDNet, VHA, the joint venture between mobile operators Vodafone Australia and Hutchison 3G Australia, will start work next week on five sites between Ourimbah and Toukley on the Central Coast, and will subsequently move on to begin upgrades at a further 39 base stations between Newcastle and the Hunter Valley. Work in these areas is expected to be completed by 3 May 2011, following which VHA will undertake six weeks of testing. Commenting on the development of the network VHA chief technology officer Michael Young said: ‘The changes to our network equipment will happen overnight, but the actual improvements in network performance and experience will take a couple of months to be fully realised.’ As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Huawei will install its SingleRAN base stations and radio network controllers (RNCs) at around 5,800 sites over the next 18 months, which will allow the delivery of 2G, 3G and 4G services from a single base station at theoretical downlink speeds of up to 42Mbps.
Alongside confirmation of the first stages of its network upgrade, VHA has also revealed that it intends to launch commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services later this year. ‘Huawei’s SingleRAN solution will enable Vodafone to upgrade to 4G or LTE at the flick of a switch, with the first LTE next generation services expected to come online later this year,’ the cellco said in a statement.