Vodafone Australia has unveiled a self-installable mobile coverage solution aimed at bringing 4G and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to unconnected residents and businesses in the country’s rural and regional areas.
The plug-and-play device, dubbed Vodafone Regional Coverage Hub, is designed to deliver 4G voice and data services in locations where commercial networks are not traditionally deployed, or where coverage is patchy or unavailable, Vodafone said.
The device also provides IoT connectivity. It can be quickly and easily installed on a roof or exterior wall of a property by simply plugging it into a power source and connecting to an existing broadband internet connection.
Vodafone said the company recently conducted six-week trial of the Vodafone Regional Coverage Hub at a potato farm near Ballarat in Victoria. During the trial, two of the Nokia-made devices provided around eight square kilometers of mobile coverage, with connectivity back to Vodafone’s mobile network delivered via an NBN fixed wireless connection.
Vodafone chief technology officer Kevin Millroy said the trial demonstrates Vodafone’s commitment to “bring choice and competition” to regional and rural Australia.
“Farmers face a particularly big challenge without reliable mobile coverage across their properties. The ability to make a call and access emails while working, let alone the opportunity to adopt new services and applications, just isn’t there without reliable coverage,” he said.
“Providing a self-install solution removes the dependency that regional communities and farmers have on mobile operators. It gives them the power to get mobile coverage quickly and easily, without needing to wait for a mobile tower to be built or existing infrastructure to be made available for co-location near their property.”
Millroy said Vodafone is expecting to make its Regional Coverage Hub available in the second half of 2019. The operator is also exploring opportunities to use the connection to NBN’s satellite service to expand the Regional Connectivity Hub’s capability to more remote parts of Australia.
Vodafone is currently in the process of pursuing a merger with TPG Telecom.