Huawei Technologies, the mainland's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, has been contracted to overhaul all the 2G and 3G infrastructure of Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) in a massive network upgrade.
'We're installing the latest technology from the company that we believe is the best network hardware and software vendor in the world,' VHA chief executive Nigel Dews said yesterday.
The project, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, will replace about 5,800 existing 2G and 3G base station sites with Huawei's SingleRAN solution.
VHA, which was formed in 2009 from the merger between Vodafone Australia and Hutchison 3G Australia, will also install the Huawei network equipment at more than 2,200 base station sites that the carrier will bring into its nationwide network over the next 18 months.
The Huawei system can deliver 2G, 3G and the Long Term Evolution (LTE)-standard 4G services from a single base station site.
'Huawei's SingleRAN solution will enable Vodafone to upgrade to 4G at the flick of a switch, with the first LTE next-generation services expected to come online later this year,' Peter Rossi, chief technology officer at Huawei Australia, said.
VHA confirmed that all its customers' mobile phones and mobile broadband devices will remain compatible with the new Huawei equipment being introduced across the network. The carrier has more than 7.4 million subscribers in Australia.
According to market research firm Ovum, Huawei scooped the VHA contract from the carrier's incumbent suppliers Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks.
'It was not a surprise that Huawei was on the shortlist for this contract,' Ovum analyst Nicole McCormick said. 'But it is surprising that Huawei has ousted Vodafone's long-standing vendors. Price played a key part in this decision.'
'This network overhaul is long overdue, and Vodafone and Huawei must proceed quickly to deploy the network infrastructure, which includes 42-megabit per second Evolved High-Speed Packet Access-standard wireless broadband at the 850-megahertz spectrum, to address Vodafone's network capacity issues.'
Vodafone will also replace its radio network controller equipment with new Huawei technology at sites in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
VHA will replace about 5,800 base stations and install 2,200 others
The number of subscribers to VHA's mobile phone and broadband services in Australia: 7.4m