The Vodafone 4G rollout process has begun! While the RAN installation, backhaul and core network upgrades are being completed, Vodafone have released some interesting figures from some of their latest Sydney tests.
Vodafone's LTE-A FDD service is being rolled out on the 1800MHz band, the same frequency band as the Telstra and Optus 4G services but with a twist - Vodafone have secured 20MHz of continuous spectrum across all states. This means that Vodafone's 4G service will be the only network capable of operating at a peak theoretical maximum of 150Mbps (172.2Mbps max physical layer), about 120Mbps maximum real-world speeds. Compare this to Telstra and Optus who have as little as 10MHz in the south-eastern states - peak speeds of no more than 60Mbps.
Optus actually only operate 10MHz Australia-wide as of March 2013
What this means is Vodafone's 4G service has the potential to be twice as fast as its competitors, with the network capable of application-layer speeds up to about 120Mbps - something Telstra can only achieve in Western Australia, and something that Optus 4G customers can only dream of.
Although this sort of information should be taken with a grain of salt - Vodafone don't currently own 20MHz of continuous spectrum in all states (as of March 2013). Even with such a huge spectrum, network performance will depend on the capacity of their backhaul and core networks which, if hastily implemented, has the potential to bottleneck the system.
Vodafone's predatory pricing strategies have in the past caused major issues for the network - with radio frequency spectrum being such a valuable commodity, underpricing drives huge numbers of subscribers to the network leading to oversubscription and consequently lower speeds due to congestion. This is exactly what we all saw happen to their 3G service, which quickly backfired causing the company to haemorrhage customers.
As of March 2013 there are no listings on ACMA databases. Proposed locations can be manually searched for in the RFNSA database, although this is a painstaking process and no implementation details are revealed.