Vodafone Australia has appointed Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) as the primary hardware and software vendor to support its national mobile broadband rollout, based on High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technology, which is being fast-tracked for completion in December 2008.
                               
Vodafone's national network upgrade will deliver an enhanced experience to the growing number of business and personal customers using Vodafone Mobile Connect data cards and USB modems. The upgrade will also improve Vodafone's capacity to provide high-quality voice calls, SMS, video messaging and Vodafone live! services, such as mobile news, entertainment and the best of the web, to customers in more areas.


Vodafone and Ericsson will deploy network engineering teams in all states and territories simultaneously to ensure more Vodafone customers in regional and rural Australia can enjoy the benefits of HSPA mobile broadband coverage this year. In addition to upgrading all Vodafone 2G sites to 3.5G (HSPA), a significant proportion of high-demand sites in metropolitan areas covered by the Vodafone and Optus joint venture HSPA network sharing agreement will be upgraded to provide higher specification mobile data transmission.


Vodafone is upgrading its 900MHz and 2100MHz mobile network in regional and rural Australia with Ericsson's latest hardware and software, which is rated to the 14.4Mbps maximum theoretical downlink standard and is amongst some of the highest specification equipment currently available for commercial deployment.
  
"Australians deserve better mobile broadband services, and we think it's time for Vodafone to provide greater competition for the benefit of customers in our regional cities and towns," said Russell Hewitt, CEO at Vodafone Australia. "In addition to benefiting regional Australia, our national network upgrade will deliver significant increases in upload and download speeds for urban customers travelling outside the cities."


"Today's announcement is good news for residential customers looking for an alternative to fixed line internet connections and great news for business people who need mobile broadband access to the internet, email and server-based information in more areas of Australia," said Hewitt.


"Australia is a big country, so we've taken a pragmatic approach to our mobile broadband network investment and rollout," added Russell Hewitt. "We're upgrading our network in a way that enables Vodafone to maintain good cost control and consistently market great value deals to our customers. Vodafone's national mobile broadband upgrade will change the way many more Australians look at their mobile phones and laptops." 


The national network upgrade will expand Vodafone's mobile broadband coverage to reach 95 per cent of the areas where Australians live and work. Vodafone selected Ericsson as its primary hardware and software vendor for the project because of the company's proven technology solution and project management expertise.


Bill Zikou, CEO of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, said: "Ericsson is very pleased that Vodafone has chosen to install the highest specification mobile broadband technology commercially available today. Ericsson has many of Australia's best network engineers already working on our rollout schedule and technology solution and our teams in all states and territories are keen to get started on this incredibly exciting project."


"Vodafone markets the best products available and we'll continue to enhance our mobile broadband network capabilities as new technology becomes available," added Russell Hewitt.    


Ericsson is the world's leading provider of technology and services to telecom operators. The market leader in 2G and 3G mobile technologies, Ericsson supplies communications services and manages networks that serve more than 185 million subscribers. The company's portfolio comprises mobile and fixed network infrastructure and broadband and multimedia solutions for operators, enterprises and developers. The Sony Ericsson joint venture provides consumers with feature-rich personal mobile devices.
 
Ericsson is advancing its vision of 'communication for all' through innovation, technology, and sustainable business solutions. Working in 175 countries, more than 70,000 employees generated revenue of USD 27.9 billion (SEK 188 billion) in 2007. Founded in 1876 and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Ericsson is listed on the Stockholm, London and NASDAQ stock exchanges.
 
For more information, visit www.ericsson.com or www.ericsson.mobi.


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About Vodafone
Vodafone is the world's leading international mobile communications group with equity interests in 25 countries and 39 partner networks across 5 continents. The group provides quality services to 3.57 million Australian customers (excluding MVNO customers) and has more than 252 million proportionate customers worldwide.


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