Faster internet for central Auckland

22:12, Feb 27 2013

Vodafone has launched a 4G mobile service giving central-Auckland customers faster mobile broadband.

It will mean slicker mobile browsing, and improve the performance of applications such as video streaming and gaming.

The service, which covers 30 per cent of central Auckland, will be rolled out to Christchurch in May, Wellington in August or September, and to 15 towns and centres around the country by the end of the year.

Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners said it would begin rolling out the service in rural areas from early next year using lower-frequency spectrum to be auctioned by the Government later this year.

Vodafone's announcement was widely expected, and may have disappointed those looking for mobile broadband plans packed with more data.

But Stanners said research had shown existing data caps were sufficient for mobile users


The service will cost an extra $10 a month. Those on a $120 a month a plan will not pay extra.

Customers will need 4G-capable smartphones and tablets to use the service.

Apple's iPhone 5, iPad Retina and iPad Mini are all compatible and available in New Zealand.

Customers could also buy the 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Stanners said 65,000 customers around the country already had 4G-capable devices and those without them would have the choice of 12 devices in three months.

4G increases the data-carrying capacity of cell sites and reduces lag, meaning telecommunications companies can use the technology to support faster mobile broadband plans with higher data caps, and to better-support new services that rely on low latency, such as group video-conferencing and mobile gaming.

Telecom began trialling 4G with about 100 customers, including Westpac, Mitre 10, Television New Zealand and Hutt Valley District Health Board, in Auckland and Wellington this month.

It has upgraded 30 cell sites to support the technology, but had indicated it will not launch a commercial service until towards the end of the year.