Vodafone New Zealand upgraded 4G base stations around the country and added spectrum to boost internet capacity to handle a spike in data usage spurred by Covid-19 (coronavirus)-related lockdown measures.
In a statement Tony Baird, director of wholesale and infrastructure, said the company is investing in numerous urgent projects, including working with Nokia to boost capacity at 265 4G cell sites and adding new spectrum in the 2.6GHz band.
He said Vodafone NZ teams “are working overtime with lots of late nights on our networks, we’re buying new software and adding extra technology into the mix to avoid online traffic jams”.
Baird said Dense Air, a provider of small cell services with spectrum assets in New Zealand, had loaned the operator its 2.6GHz spectrum for three months. He noted this would be used in rural areas as well as urban, but took the opportunity to highlight coverage issues in less populated parts of the country required a longer-term approach, with “no silver bullet” to boosting service availability.
The operator also is working with various government agencies on additional ways to increase internet capacity.
He said online data continues to be 20 per cent higher across the country than pre-lockdown levels, with spikes of up to 30 per cent. The time spent on voice calls is 60 per cent higher.
SMS traffic is down 25 per cent, as customers turn to online messaging services including WhatsApp and Facebook messenger.
Baird also highlighted a surge in consumption in rural areas after the operator began offering unlimited free data from midnight to 9am, with usage up 40 per cent during those hours.