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 Friday, July 04, 2008

WELLINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Vodafone New Zealand Friday said it will extend its third generation mobile network to cover 97% of the population, taking total spending on 3G infrastructure investment to NZ$500 million. The local unit of U.K.-based Vodafone PLC said its advanced mobile network would cover 97% of the places New Zealanders live and work in by 2010, up from the 63% coverage currently.

"The network extension means we'll be able to offer true broadband speeds to almost every New Zealander, and especially our rural customers, by April 2010," said Vodafone General Manager Corporate Affairs Tom Chignell. "This means broadband will be available on customers' mobiles and it can be used as a cost effective home solution, especially in areas where no land line-based broadband is available," he said. Vodafone said an enhancement of its downlink speed to 7.2 Megabits per second is currently being rolled out. In the future, peak downlink speeds will go up to 28.8 Mbps and uplink speeds 11.5 Mbps using High Speed Packet Access protocols.

Responding to the announcement, Communications Minister David Cunliffe said the country's regulatory regime has given telecommunications companies the flexibility to bring broadband to rural areas. "This announcement means that more New Zealanders will have access to high-speed internet via their home computers, laptops and on their mobile phones," Cunliffe said. "While many countries are still struggling with the removal of outdated restrictions on the use of lower frequency bands for HSPA, the flexible spectrum regulatory arrangements in New Zealand mean that the benefits of this technology can be delivered to New Zealanders now."

Vodafone is currently also ramping up competitive pressure on Telecom Corp. of New Zealand by aggressively rolling out new broadband and home phone products following regulation that split the former state-owned monopoly into three separate companies and gave rivals access to its network.

Source: Cellular News.