Vodafone has revealed that it has commenced the testing of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the Lake Brunner area of the South Island’s West Coast. According to Stuff.co.nz, the trial – which signifies the carrier’s first rural test – will run until the end of July using 700MHz frequencies. In the coming years, so-called ‘digital dividend’ spectrum in the 700MHz band will be made available to domestic cellcos as the country switches from analogue to digital television transmission. Lake Brunner has been selected as the trial site because analogue TV has already been turned off in the area. On the same cell site, Vodafone says that it has also enabled LTE using 1800MHz spectrum.
Vodafone head of networks Tony Baird commented: ‘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, geography and cell tower type’.