Vodafone Australia has said it plans to cover 95 percent of the country’s population with HSPA technology by the end of 2008. “Building a national mobile broadband network is our number one priority for 2008 and we will make it happen on time,” said Vodafone Australia CEO Russell Hewitt. The operator said vendor selection will be completed by early 2008 and that work has already commenced on its core network in preparation for the upgrade. Vodafone Australia was keen to point out that normal mobile network services will be maintained during the rollout period. It added it will continue its 3G joint venture with Optus in major metropolitan areas (which serves approximately 58 percent of the population) but will undertake its own upgrade to its 900 and 2100 MHz mobile network in all other parts of the country. Reports flag the deal, which could provide theoretical peak speeds of up to 14.4 Mb/s, at around US$440 million.
The plans mean Australia will have at least three nationwide HSPA networks. Optus has announced plans to complete extension of its own network to 96 percent of the population by 2009. Meanwhile Telstra led the way with the nationwide launch last year of its US$1.06 billion Next G network.