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Vodafone Wellington 4G mapNew Zealand capital only ranks seventh on Vodafone’s 4G to do list

Vodafone says it launched its 4G network in parts of Wellington today. The service covers the central business district and parts of Lower Hutt.

Clearly the nation’s capital and the highest density of technology innovators was not a priority. Vodafone says its 4G network is already available in parts of Auckland, Christchurch, Lake Brunner, Queenstown, Wanaka and Taupo.

It could be the company plucked low-hanging fruit first or that some of these places were already on the engineering schedule so upgrades were brought forward. And it would be fair to say Vodafone doesn’t enjoy as high a mobile market share in Wellington as in Auckland – although the TelstraClear acquisition will have boosted the company’s presence in the capital.

Yet it seems almost neglectful to push such a centre of innovation so far down the priority list.

There’s a clue to the company’s thinking buried in the announcement:

And with 4G available to over 30% of Wellington’s population today – including the central city and Lower Hutt – rising to more than 50% in September

In Auckland, there’s more of a correlation between where people live and where they spend their time. Wellington is different. Many Wellington workers commute to the centre for work and stay there in the evening for entertainment.

In other words, In Wellington covering 30 percent of the where the population lives isn’t as important as covering the places where people spend the bulk of their working day and their play time.

Would it be unkind of me to suggest that Auckland-based Vodafone doesn’t fully understand Wellington?

7 thoughts on “Innovative Wellington late to Vodafone 4G party

  1. I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Wellington is a difficult place to provide mobile coverage due to its geographic challenges. It also doesn’t help that Vodafone is currently unable to provide 700MHz coverage until DSO has happened and they have the rights to use that spectrum. 1800MHz coverage in Wellington would be quite difficult given that even Telecom doesn’t provide consistently good 850MHz coverage in Wellington. Give them time and I’m sure they’ll get there in the end (and probably well before Telecom!).

      • Looking at the map Wellington and Lower Hutt CBDs already has pretty good 1800MHz coverage. Their lack of coverage is predominantly in the suburbs where 700MHz will make the biggest difference. In the long run the best mix of spectum would be to use 700Mhz everywhere as a base network, with 1800MHz usage in areas where the extra capacity is required. Vodafone is having to build their network back-to-front (i.e. 1800MHz first then 700MHz) which isn’t helpful in places like Wellington.

  2. I think this is one of the times where if you were privy to their decision making process and information they have it would make sense. It may not have been the ideal order, but I think it made sense to them.

    As a business, Vodafone doesn’t have to care about Wellington’s Tech people directly (Sure tech people are more likely to want 4G, but that doesn’t mean they will pay what Auckland businessmen who weekend in Taupo will. Their biggest effect would be on what they create and how appealing NZ websites/services can be made for mobile to require Joe Public to want it).

    My thoughts, anyway.

    • I get that for Auckland and Christchurch. I can even accept Queenstown may be a special case – 2 degrees was there before it reached most of the rest of the country. But Wanaka, Lake Brunner and Taupo? I suspect those places were already scheduled for engineering and decided to roll out the new kit at the same time.

      And anyway, Vodafone is normally very clever about the symbolism of its actions.

      • We do have the second stage of our fibre rollout happening. But I did assume because of the mass of fancy homes in Acacia Bay.

  3. It’s a weird question that you ask, Bill. Wrong to suggest it methinks. Would the same suggestion apply to Telecom’s roadmap? With Auckland first? Perhaps not for either then.

    I think there is some interesting conversations to have around the 700MHz frequency… Lake Brunner (Vodafone) and Hawkes Bay (Telecom) are good experiments for that frequency.
    BUT – can anyone name a 700MHz device available on the market?

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