Telecom New Zealand has announced that it will be conducting live customer trials of Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile technology later this year, in preparation for the evolution of its ‘XT’ mobile broadband network from 3G to 4G. A press statement released by the operator quotes its CEO Paul Reynolds as saying: ‘Future network investment will be based on maintaining our network leadership position with a particular focus on accommodating the explosive growth in mobile data and continued rise of smart-devices. We will progressively adopt 4G network capability, starting with a customer trial later this year using LTE technology. The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) is yet to announce its detailed plans for the auction of 700MHz spectrum, which will be important for widespread, cost effective, 4G deployment. But Telecom nevertheless intends to continue on and build real-world experience of 4G operations through this trial. To that end, we are currently conducting a technology selection process, with the aim to have the trial service operational with selected business and consumer customers before the end of 2012’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in August 2011 Reynolds indicated that Telecom was prepared to wait until 2012 before rolling out an LTE mobile network. At the time the CEO said that Steven Joyce, the minister of communications and information technology, had confirmed that 112MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz frequency band will be auctioned off in 2012, following the completion of the country’s digital TV rollout. TeleGeography notes that whilst the 700MHz spectrum band is not widely used for the deployment of LTE, it has been utilised by numerous operators in the US with a degree of success.