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Vodafone Australia / Optus Mobile WCDMA 3G Rollout, Australia




Key Data


Vodafone Australia has started the first phase of a two-stage rollout of 3G across Australia. The network will be based upon the popular European standard for 3G networks, WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access). Australia already has its first 3G network courtesy of Hutchinson Telecom trading under its 3G brand name "3".

Vodafone Australia has 2.59 million subscribers across the country, making it the third largest mobile telecommunications company in Australia. The company is working in conjunction with Optus Mobile (a subsidiary of Singapore Telecom) to develop a second 3G network - with the first phase covering the major cities and then a second stage rollout to cover rural areas of the country - following an agreement between the two companies signed in October 2004.

Vodafone Australia and Optus Mobile both won 15yr 2GHz spectrum 3G licences in the March 2001 auction for the 1,885MHz to 2,025MHz and 2,110MHz to 2,200MHz bands for US$253.55 million and AU$248.87million, respectively, and are being allowed to develop a jointly-run network.

The equipment investment for the network is US$500 million, while the other construction costs are US$306 million (these costs will now be shared between Vodafone and Optus [Optus hopes to save over AU$130 million]). The network is being started in late 2004 and is scheduled to be complete and operational by early 2006. Vodafone and Optus will share the network but will still compete for subscribers and operate totally separate customer service operations.

CONTRACTORS AND CONSTRUCTION

The main consultant for Vodafone on the feasibility of establishing a 3G network and the appointment of contractors to carry out the work was Freehills. The main equipment supply and install contract for the new network was awarded to Nokia in May 2004 for US$500 million. The project management and network planning and design contract was awarded to Bechtel Telecommunications in June 2004.

Nokia will provide its complete core and radio access network solution (MSC server architecture) as well as other fully-managed services for network operations including the Nokia NetAct (a network management system that integrates network performance optimisation with advisory services, maintenance and product / application development).

Bechtel will support Vodafone with their project management services, including management of cost, schedule and quality, and will also support Vodafone's RF engineering team with planning and design services.

The 3G deployment will begin in Sydney and Melbourne and will continue into Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra as the first phase continues. The deployment across these first six cities will require more than 2,000 base stations, which are to be installed before the last quarter of 2005.

As part of its continuing outsourcing strategy to save on costs, Vodafone will use the services of AAP Communications and TCI to manage the expansion, upgrade and maintenance of its base station infrastructure. Property and facilities management will be the responsibility of Five D. IT applications and platforms will be provided by Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

NOKIA PACKET CORE NETWORK AND MSC SERVER

The Nokia Packet Core network is to be provided together with the Nokia WCDMA RAN (radio access network). The Nokia Intelligent Content Delivery (ICD) Solution OSS (operations control system) will manage subscriber data services and control charging for downloads, service access and content. Nokia ICD may also enable online and offline charging for content and traffic, helping to cut fraud.

The Nokia circuit core solution (which will be provided for voice services over the 3G network) is based on MSC Server architecture. The new MSC Servers will simultaneously support GSM and WCDMA access systems in common or separate network elements for a seamless transition from 2G to 3G services (where initial coverage allows). MSC Server architecture enables call control to be centralised at a few MSC Server sites, while the actual voice traffic can be switched locally, close to traffic hot spots. This allows savings in site costs, network operation costs and transmission costs.

The network may also include the implementation of Voice over IP (VoIP) in the MSC Server System to simplify network operation work by reducing the transit MSC layer.

NOKIA ADVANCED INDOOR RADIO (AIR)

With the new 3G network wireless data services will become even more important, and so the new network will make use of Nokia Advanced Indoor Radio (AIR). This system will provide indoor coverage and capacity and fully integrate with the base stations and operations support system. The system will allow coverage for offices, hotels and sports and entertainment arenas and give improved network quality in tunnels, shopping malls and railway stations.

The network may also use High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology at a later date as a 3.5G upgrade to the WCDMA base stations. HSDPA will provide typical downlink data rates of 1Mbps to 2Mbps, peaking at 14.4Mbps, while doubling the base station capacity.

VODAFONE NEW SERVICES

Vodafone Australia is adopting a new strategy in the quest to tempt subscribers from other networks. The first is an aggressive test promotional campaign in Queensland where they have distributed 680,000 SIM cards free inside a Sunday newspaper allowing the reader (with a handset) to 200 free minutes of Vodafone voice and data services. The company hopes this will add 150,000 subscribers to their subscriber base of 330,000 in Queensland already. If this promotion is successful then it will be used in other regions of Australia.

Vodafone are also targeting small and medium sized businesses by partnering with Tech Pacific (a leading IT reseller base in Australia). Vodafone hope that they can provide small and medium businesses with a full IT and telecoms package including mobile data solutions and services.

Vodafone have recently launched the RIM Blackberry handsets in Australia to allow subscribers to pick up email remotely. Pacific Tech will market the Blackberry and Vodafone mobile connect as a mobile data package. In this way Vodafone is aiming to stimulate their subscriber base in readiness for the new faster 3G network it will launch in early 2006.