Vodafone Responds to Gizmodo Poll, Lifehacker Tests

What's been your experience with Vodafone in July? We want to know what you think, and so far, almost 800 Giz readers have responded. Almost 30% of you feel that data is still flaky, and just over half are ready to call it quits -- despite Vodafone saying that their network fixes are ahead of schedule. To play fair, we gave Vodafone the chance to address concerns. Here is their response.

• Have your say in Gizmodo's Reader Poll: Vodafone Claims Network Fixes, What Say You?

Gizmodo: How will Voda's 850Mhz network affect users with non 850 smartphones?

Vodafone has rolled out our 850 MHz 3G equipment at around 810 sites to date, and will bring this new network layer to around 200 more sites this year (detailed rollout schedule on our website).

We will also introduce 850MHz 3G to a further 500 sites next year. This new 850mHz 3G network will increasingly be utilized by smartphone customers, using devices such as Apple iPhones and Android devices as well as those using newer Mobile Broadband USB modems.

At the same time, Vodafone's introduction and utilization of the 850MHz spectrum also frees up parts of Vodafone's existing 900MHz and 2100MHz frequencies, which will benefit customers using non-850MHz devices.

OK, that explains how 850 could actually provide benefits for everyone. And the proof will be in user feedback. Meanwhile, here's Vodafone's response to Lifehacker's recent tests in the Central Coast and Newcastle areas of NSW. The results were less than impressive, and only conducted after Vodafone wrote a blog saying "In the 49 sites completed in the Newcastle / Hunter and Central Coast region, all network reliability measures improved significantly."

From the looks of their response below, perhaps Vodafone should have waited until the upgrades were fully complete to spruik any improvements.

In response to Lifehacker's tests: the rollout is ahead of schedule but it is not yet complete and we have a great deal of work to do as we continue to build our new 850MHz network, add new sites, upgrade sites and install new the equipment across our radio access network.

To clarify, Vodafone's rollout program comprises two major parts: 1. Rolling out our new (850MHz) 3G network, specifically designed to improve smartphone, tablet and mobile broadband performance and enhance indoor coverage for compatible 850 devices.

2. Replacing equipment on our radio access network with new Huawei equipment across the entire network, capable of delivering 2G, 3G and, later, 4G from a single base station site

These two parts are more often than not happening at different times in each location. For example in Newcastle we completed the radio access network swap out, but will not complete the 850MHz network build until the end of September. The improvements derived in Newcastle as a result of the upgrade are focused mainly on call quality and more reliable mobile broadband connections.

The recent article on Lifehacker specifically examines mobile broadband performance. The testing took place using a Pocket WiFi device during a journey which covered some areas that have been upgraded to the new Huawei network equipment and some that have not yet been upgraded.

The equipment upgrade is one of the programs to improve the Vodafone network, but not the only program, and the primary goals of the equipment replacement is increased call quality and a more reliable mobile broadband connection.

None of the sites tested by Lifehacker have had the benefit of Vodafone switching on the new 850MHz 3G network, which we expect will have the biggest impact (of the two major parts of our rollout program) on improving mobile broadband performance and speed for compatible 850 devices. Vodafone is planning to roll out the first of its new 850MHz 3G network sites on parts of the Central Coast, Newcastle and the Hunter later this year. The Newcastle area is also yet to receive the transmission upgrade which should bring more improvements for data.

Even though the tests don’t reflect ultimately what we are building in the Newcastle area, our research shows customer satisfaction in the area has more than doubled as an outcome of the work we have completed to date.

Vodafone provides customers with detailed information on its network rollout schedule for both its network equipment upgrade and its 850MHz 3G rollout. Full details are available at www.vodafone.com.au/network

Leave a comment with your thoughts on the above, or any questions that you still have surrounding Vodafone's network. I'll get in contact with a rep and do my best to get them answered asap.

Have your say in Gizmodo's Reader Poll: Vodafone Claims Network Fixes, What Say You?