Telecom New Zealand has announced plans to launch LTE services at no extra charge to customers, putting pressure on rival Vodafone in the country’s nascent 4G market.
The operator said its service will go live in the cities of Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington on November 12, allowing prepaid and contract customers to take advantage of the higher-speed network technology on existing tariffs.
The move will be a source of irritation to Vodafone (Auckland, New Zealand), which launched 4G earlier this year but is reportedly demanding higher fees from customers for access to the service.
“Offering a free upgrade to 4G is yet another way that Telecom [Auckland, New Zealand] is transforming how people use their smartphones,” said Chris Quin, chief executive of Telecom New Zealand’s retail division.
“Telecom’s decision to make its 4G network freely available to all of its customers is another significant step towards providing an integrated network of fibre, 3G, 4G and WiFi that will deliver the rich, relevant, real-time experiences and instant access to information today’s consumers and businesses increasingly expect,” added David Havercroft, Telecom New Zealand’s chief operating officer.
Although customers will not have to pay more for the service, they will need to own a 4G-compatible phone and upgrade to a 4G SIM card to take advantage of the faster network.
They will, however, be entitled to make greater use of data services than on 3G networks.
Another drawback is coverage, with services set to be initially unavailable to customers outside New Zealand’s biggest three cities.
Telecom New Zealand is making the service available using its 1800MHz frequency holdings but is also reported to have announced plans to participate in a forthcoming auction of 700MHz spectrum suitable for introducing services in less densely populated parts of the country.
As well as announcing its 4G plans, Telecom New Zealand has unveiled a new-look retail designed to shore up interest in the new offers.
“We wanted to deliver new things before changing the label, and so we have transformed the network experience we’re offering both our mobile and our fixed customers,” said Quin.