2degrees switches on 4G

2degrees has switched on its 4G network in Auckland this morning, following a three-month trial.

4G now live on 2degrees in 72 sites around central Auckland (see a coverage map here).

The carrier says it will triple Auckland coverage by the end of the year.

It also expects to make 4G available in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch by the end of the year, with  a rollout to provincial areas beginning in 2015.

The upgrade supports “CAT 4” 4G devices, which have theoretical speeds of up to 150Mbit/s (as a participant in 2degrees’ trial, NBR hit download speeds of up to 72Mbit/s, or around 10x the speed of 2degrees 3G network; as every, mobile data download speed tests are something of a dark art, depending on how close you are to the nearest cell tower, how buys the network is and other variables).

4G has no price premium, but 2degrees CEO Stewart Sherriff warns, “The beauty of 4G means people can potentially download things in seconds – but that can also chew through data. We recently introduced ‘Worry-free data which warns people first that they are nearing their limit and then puts a hard stop on their accounts when they reach their data limit to ensure customers stay fully in control. Customers will then need to add an additional data pack.”

2degrees customers can also keep track of their data usage via the 2degrees app and can also activate ‘Spend Control’ to set a spend limit to ensure there are no surprises,” Mr Sherriff says.

The 4G upgrade was carried out by 2degrees’ primary network partner Huawei (also responsible for Telecom’s recent 4G upgrade. Vodafone’s 4G upgrade, which began in February last year, was handled by Nokia Siemens Network).

Telecom and Vodafone are now onto turbocharge upgrades of their respective 4G networks

As well as playing catch-up with its 4G rollout, 2degrees was on the backfoot at the government’s recent 4G spectrum auction. ICT Minister Amy Adams ignored the telco’s calls for 700MHz airwaves to be allocated to it at “a fair price” and Telecom and Vodafone comprehensively outbid it to win the most spectrum.