Vodafone will re-allocate the 850MHz spectrum used for its 3G network to expand its 4G coverage, joining the race against Telstra and Optus as Australia's biggest telcos look to beef up their 4G offerings.
Vodafone today announced it would refarm the spectrum to speed up its 4G rollout in order to reach a target of 4G coverage across 95 percent of the country's metropolitan population by the end of the year.
The low-band 850MHz spectrum will complement the high-band 1800MHz spectrum used by the 4G network, the company said.
Vodafone trialled the new arrangement with a number of 4G devices in 40 sites across the NSW city of Newcastle, which it called a success.
Vodafone CTO Benoit Hanssen said the majority of 4G smartphones and tablets currently on the market would support the 850MHz, meaning customers would not need to make changes to their devices.
Vodafone will initially refarm 5MHz of the 10MHz of spectrum used by the 850MHz 3G service to the 4G network by the end of the year, and has also been slowly re-allocating 900Mhz spectrum from its 2G network onto the 3G network.
The telco plans to eventually shift its entire 900MHz network onto the 3G network once the second half of the 10MHz spectrum is refarmed to 4G. Vodafone currently has no timeline for the switch off of its 2G network.
Rival Telstra last week confirmed it was considering repurposing 1800MHz spectrum from its 2G network for its 4G network, and is already using a portion of both its 1800MHz and 900Mhz holdings at a number of 4G sites.
Both Telstra and Optus are currently preparing to switch on trials of 4G services on the 700MHz spectrum acquired through the Government's 2013 digital dividend auction.
The pair have both managed to get early access to the spectrum - which is due for official release next January - while trialling 4G on 700MHz and will soon switch on 4G services in a number of areas nationally.