Vodafone Australia is planning a drastic network upgrade involving replacing all its 2G and 3G base station equipment with multiformat gear provided by Huawei.
The overhaul of some 8,000 sites, designed to help the operator overcome prolonged criticism over its network coverage and performance, will also see the network upgraded with 42-Mbps HSPA+ equipment.
The base stations will use Huawei's SingleRAN solution, which is compatible with 2G, 3G and LTE.
Vodafone Australia – one half of the joint venture Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) - has also announced it will fast-track its previously announced upgrade plans, involving installing 2,500 new base stations and upgrading or installing 141 new 3G sites.
Huawei beat out Vodafone Australia's long-standing vendors, Ericsson and NSN, for the deal in a move that Ovum senior analyst Nicole McCormick said was clearly motivated by price.
“This network overhaul is long overdue,” she said, while warning that Vodafone Australia “is not out of the woods yet.”
She predicted that it could take 18 months to complete the equipment swap-out.
News of the upgrade comes as VHA CEO Nigel Dews posted yet another public apology to Vodafone Australia users.
In a blog post, Dews apologized to customers experiencing dropped calls, delayed SMS, slow data speeds and inconsistent coverage.
“What happened? The simple answer is that we’ve been growing fast, and when problems came, we responded too slowly,” he said.
Addressing the controversy over Vodafone Australia's handling of its customer data, Dews said the company had completed an internal IT and security review, improving IT systems, processes and surveillance.