Telecom 4G gets switched on

Telecom NZ switched their 4G network on overnight, which now covers parts of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. A new SIM card with a certain HLR range is required to use Telecom 4G (and of course this must be in a 4G capable phone and be within the coverage areas). Telecom say that they have couriered out 40,000 of these SIM cards to their customers in the lead-up to today’s launch.
Along with the ‘Ultra’ branding, Telecom is also promoting their WiFi hotspots as another option for getting mobile data.
Telecom’s 4G equipment is CAT4 which supports 150Mbps for download and 51Mbps upload.

If you’re a Telecom customer and haven’t arranged for a new SIM card, I recommend that you go in store. This will ensure everything is done one the spot, you’ll avoid the wait for delivery and you can double-check that you’re new SIM is activated.

With Vodafone well established, that leaves 2degrees mobile as the last operator to launch a 4G network. 2degrees have said that they will launch in 2014, but nothing more specific than that.

Vodafone 4G gets faster and goes to the beach

As Vodafone continues its 4G and DC-HSDPA network upgrade around the country, 4G coverage has been spotted in Dunedin, Hamilton, Tauranga and Nelson.
It’s also officially extended into Arrowtown, Gisborne, Matarangi, Hahei and Coromandel township, with Whitianga, Whangamata and more due before Christmas.
Vodafone is also deploying a faster CAT4 4G with a theoretical top speed of 150Mbps. To take advantage of CAT4 speeds you’ll need a CAT4 mobile phone or device. Current CAT4 devices available are the Galaxy Note 3, the Sony Xperia Z1 with a 4G Pocket WiFi (Vodafone R215).
JohnR from Vodafone says that the CAT4 variant of the Galaxy S4 can be ordered through their retail stores. This variant has a model number of GT-I9506. See http://www.geekzone.co.nz/forums.asp?forumid=40&topicid=133458&page_no=2

Telecom 4G launch finally announced

Telecom NZ have today announced that their launch date for 4G will be November 12, 2013. After missing their initial launch target of October, Telecom 4G will soon be available to customers with a 4G mobile device (at no extra cost) in parts of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You’ll need a 4G capable phone and a new Telecom SIM card to use 4G at launch, which Telecom will be supplying to customers free of charge.
Telecom are operating their 4G in the 1800MHz band, the same as Vodafone’s 4G.

Confusingly, their Ultra mobile competition page says “On selected plans” – although in conflict with their press release, this may by poor editing.

Update: It looks like there have been multiple problems with the Ultra mobile site as discussed here on Geekzone
The “On selected plans” has now been removed – the bad links and rendering problems may be resolved shortly.

Vodafone 4G for Palmerston North & New Plymouth

Vodafone’s 4G service went live in Palmerston North on August 16, followed by a launch in New Plymouth on August 30 as Vodafone extend the reach of their 4G network across the country.

New Plymouth has an admirable coverage of 60% of the city’s population, but Palmerston North is even better, and can now boast the best city-wide coverage of 4G in the country – at 93% of the population.

As with other roll-outs, both cities will now have improved 3G dual-carrier reception and performance.

Vodafone 4G arrives in the capital

Vodafone’s 4G service was launched in Wellington on July 29th. The coverage reaches 30% of the population in Wellington and Lower Hutt. This will be extended with network upgrades to 50% of the population by September. If you are with Vodafone and use a 3G dual-carrier phone in Wellington, you’ll likely see much better coverage and speed as a result.

The next generation of iPhone is rumoured to be announced on Sept 10 according to All Things D (today), which might be very welcome timing for Vodafone 4G customers in Wellington.

Vodafone 4G due to arrive in Taupo

Vodafone 4G will be launching in Taupo on July 10.
The local business community will be gathering for breakfast on Wednesday morning for an exclusive showcase of 4G.

Vodafone has been upgrading cell sites over the last few weeks in the Taupo region – to boost 3G speeds with dual carrier technology and also to prepare for the upcoming 4G launch. This will mean some minor disruptions to service as the work is carried out.
The end result will be better coverage and faster speeds.

You should be able to see here whether you are within 4G coverage

2degrees plans for 2014 4G launch

New Zealand’s next 4G network, after Telecom’s launch, will be 2degrees. They announced plans today to launch in early 2014, after securing $165 million for operational costs and to support building the network.
Huawei will be the equipment provider for 2degrees on the 4G rollout and are the partner who built 2degrees 2G and 3G networks.
The 4G build will focus on the 1800MHz and 2100MHz frequencies, with the auction for 700MHz frequencies yet to be held.

The best new 4G phones for 2013

It seems that more 4G deployments are being announced on a daily basis now – and all around the world. Vodafone Spain has just launched in 7 cities and TeliaSonera has announced plans to launch in Kazakhstan. Vodafone 4G is now Live in Christchurch

For New Zealand, the best 4G phones available right now are:

  1. iPhone 5
  2. HTC One
  3. Galaxy S4
  4. Xperia Z

These are the flagship models from the relevant manufacturer. You’ll no doubt have your own preference based on experience. A surprisingly good mid level 4G phone is the HTC One SV.

I expect the best rated 4G phones for 2013 to be the HTC One and the yet to be released iPhone 5S – and the ‘cheaper’ iPhone 5C.

Next 4G option now 6 months away

After the close of the 6-week 4G trial, it was good to see a launch date for Telecom 4G announced today.
The only real or interesting detail given was the company chosen to build the network and the approximate launch date in October. Huawei was chosen to build the network, with Cisco and Ericsson contributing other components.

Pricing and plans have not yet been decided – whether they choose to charge for access at a similar level to Vodafone – with more aggressive pricing – or none at all?
All to be announced much closer to the actual launch date.

There IS 4G in NZ

As it turns out, there is a 4G network in New Zealand – it’s Vodafone.
That’s a very nice change from last week. It seems that this announcement was a surprise to many, but not for Steve Biddle and his chickens. He was happily talking about it yesterday on Twitter.
Today Vodafone has announced that it has launched its’ 4G network in Auckland and will extend this out to Christchurch and Wellington in the following months.
That’s pretty good for Aucklanders who live in the coverage areas (which looks to be the majority). Those in other parts of the country will be waiting a little bit longer before they can enjoy the benefits.
This launch uses the 1800MHz spectrum. Vodafone say they are still looking very keenly at the 700MHz auction planned for around October this year.

How to get access?

Vodafone are making 4G available to post-pay customers by way of a 4G add-on, which you’ll pay $10 per month for the privilege. You’ll also need a 4G capable phone (e.g. iPhone 5, or Galaxy Note II 4G), and of course, you’ll need to be in a 4G coverage area.

I tried a few speed tests on the Vodafone network today and was surprised and amazed at how quickly the test itself ran – and then the figures it showed. I’ll be making speedtests a regular feature, so keep your eyes peeled.
Hint – If you’re with Vodafone and keen to try this out – make sure your APN settings are right first.

Whose move next?

From what I understand, Telecom have been busy getting dual-carrier implemented as widely as they can and this will continue. They’ve revealed that their 4G network will be rolled out before the end of this year. They’ve been constrained by the separation of Telecom into two companies, and I guess the financial planning means that the network build will be targeted for late 2013. Vodafone’s surprise move may change the planned dates – time will tell.
2degrees don’t have plans that they can announce yet.

I like these kinds of surprises and I expect that we will be due for a few more this year.