Vodafone 3G Coverage misses the money

I really should have checked the SSC Broadband Map before signing up to Vodafone 3G coverage.

It appears that Roseneath, one of NZ’s wealthier suburbs, and where I live, is barely covered by Vodafone’s 3G service.
roseneath
Actually there are plenty of gaps across Wellington – including Karaka Bay, Worser Bay and Seatoun, where many of the folks from the Miramar movie industry live.

broadbandmap

You can forget about Vodafone highish speed mobile broadband if you have the time and money to ski Ruapaheu this year – there is not a whisker of Vodafone 3G
broadbandmap

While in Auckland the wealthy suburbs of Mission Bay and St Helliers seem to partially miss out as well. Is this a conspiracy against the wealthy?
broadbandmap

This is not great from Vodafone – either the map is wrong, or they are missing out on a segment of the market that can easily afford to pay for 3G, and one that travels around New Zealand a lot. Don’t start me on the huge posibilities of revenie from international travel – at least not until the global roaming rates fall a few of orders of magnitude below $30,000 per GB.

Around New Zealand coverage is pretty sparse, with State Highway one uncovered for much of the journey up the North Island, and many towns simply missing out.
broadband

The South Island is worse.
si

But Vodafone still wins here – as there is no Telecom 3G coverage for those maps. In fact their own coverage maps are hard to find – there are only links on that “coverage map” page. Here’s the Wellington one (pdf)  – too low resolution to be of any use, and vague as to what goes where.

However in Australia Telstra Clear went from dodgy last to being the best 3G service by far – and they did a similar thing to what Telecom is doing in NZ right now – upgrading their vast existing network and leapfrogging everyone else.

While I would like to see a pre-emptive coverage response from Vodafone NZ, I’m pretty sure they won’t invest – they have got a good percentage of the population, and it is hard to justify hitting the sparsely populated rural areas. In Australia though there was a tipping point, where it became obvious that Telstra has coverage in say, Leonora, and the others simply did not. so going forward, if you ever find yourself needing data in the middle of nowhere, skiing on Whakapapa say, then Telecom will look increasingly viable.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
This entry was posted in NZ Business, telecom and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Vodafone 3G Coverage misses the money

  1. CJ says:

    Try the beach resorts like Omaha. No coverage. This is where people with money weekend but dont have broadband.

    Not to mention that the band the iPhone works on isn’t the one Vodafone is rolling out outside of the cities.

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  2. Mark Shaw says:

    Nice review Lance, what about Blenheim – No 3g at all again maybe this is a conspiracy against the wealthy. Surely with the amount of tourists and wine related folk in the area it warrants 3g coverage.

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  3. Steve Biddle says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to comment on the State Highway or Mt Ruapehu Coverage – all of this will be covered by the 900Mhz 3G network and there is already 3G coverage (and has been for months) in many areas not shown on those maps. There are hundreds of sites out there now all ready to be integrated into the network over the coming months and by June Vodafone will offer 3G coverage that does essentially mirror their GSM coverage and will potentially offer better coverage in some rural areas.

    There is actually no coverage at all on Whakapapa at present anyway due to the cellsite up their being destroyed in the recent fire! :-)

    Your other comments are very valid – in particular around Wellington there are serious deadspots qwhich have never been addressed. The Wgtn South Coast has been terrible and not only does Seatoun South have no 3G coverage it doesn’t even have any GSM coverage either. Telecom have sites just south of Eastbourne and at Baring Head which deliver fantastic coverage across the harbour.

    Vodafone’s network will always be inferior to Telecom’s new WCDMA network simply because of the mashup of technologies that exists. Both the network and handsets will aggressively drop back from 3G mode to GSM if set to dual mode. This means even with a 3G phone you do find your handset quite regularly in GSM mode (which is obvious due to the terrible voice quality since they still aren’t using AMR on GSM)

    Setting a phone to UMTS only isn’t an option due to the poor inbuilding coverage of their 2100 network in CBD regions compared to the existing 900 GSM coverage, not to mention many sites like the Terrace Tunnel and Seatoun which don’t have 3G and would leave you with no coverage.

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  4. Absolutely agree.

    Having used Telecom EVDO coverage for the last few years moving to Vodafone 3G has been a very sobering experience.

    I regularly drop calls in Wellington CBD – that’s outdoors on the move as opposed to indoors. Clearly the investment in 3G has been pretty light. Mt Victoria tunnel is appalling as well. It basically reminds me of the bad old days of Telecom TDMA. That’s 10 years ago.

    Using Vodafone for data on the move is a pretty poor experience as well.

    What I absolutely cannot believe is how Telecom has let Vodafone get away with this. I posted on the 3G coverage campaign run by Vodafone last year. http://szikszai.blogspot.com/2008/12/playing-with-fire.html

    It’s simply mystifying to me how Vodafone were able to run this campaign which cannot be backed up at all – a day in the Advertising Standards Complaints Authority and they would be gone.

    It is interesting that given that campaign coverage maps have not been updated to reflect 3G coverage on the site.

    I assume that 900 MHz WCDMA will only be in the rural areas so I guess I am stuck with poor coverage for now until TDay

    And BTW I am very pleased that the site I picked for Seatoun across at Baring Head is finally recognised for the brilliant piece of cellular engineering that it is :)

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  5. David Preece says:

    Just a “me too” – no Vodafone whatsoever in Breaker Bay although I seems I may have Miki to directly thank for having any cellphone coverage at all :)

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  6. Kristina says:

    Vodafone 3G 900mhz coverage is all through northland now and those coverage maps are way off

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  7. Olmec says:

    I am in rural north canterbury but very near highway one and rail line between picton – kaikoura – christchurch.

    I’m curious when I can expect this part of the country to light up on the map. Or is that too much to hope for…?

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  8. Juha says:

    It’s such a mixed bag, mobile coverage… where I am on Auckland’s North Shore, there’s pretty good HSDPA performance from Vodafone: 2.6Mbit/s downloads and 384k uploads. My friend David in Devonport though can only just make calls on his Vodafone mobile and while I *cough* do not condone using your mobile phone while driving, it’s kind of annoying that calls always cut off when going across the Harbour Bridge.

    Telecom’s 027 CDMA/EV-DO network doesn’t work too good where I am, but boy, was I glad to have a Rev-A card on Upper Moutere Highway, when I had to file a story from there. Telecom’s CDMA network is used for all kinds of telemetry stuff, and I think that’s why I got decent data speeds in the middle of nowhere. From memory, SMS didn’t work out there.

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  9. kristinahunt says:

    @juha Devonport coverage is not vodafones fault even before vodafone bell south have tried to improve coverage in the area but the community don’t want a cell mast. Vodafone has tried many times to get a mast down King Edward parade or near by

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  10. Steve says:

    Good stuff, Lance. Juha is right – mobile coverage is quite a mixed bag. Tricky thing is whether the maps are actually up-to-date or not. Looks like Vodafone have got a decent coverage map page in place now. Check it out here: http://www.vodafone.co.nz/coverage/

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  11. Kristina says:

    New 3G site in eastbourne went live this morning vodafone 3G+

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  12. CJ says:

    My 3g on the iPhone keeps dropping of when I go over the harbour bridge not good for commuter

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  13. Stuart Young says:

    I live in Breaker Bay and have virtually no coverage with Vodafone. Are there any plans to improve this?

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  14. Sad but true says:

    Ohh the poor wealthy can’t enjoy their broadband…Just kidding I’m not “wealthy” in the finacial meaning but I too am a bit upset that the coverage is not reaching to Waikanae completely, a real shame because I was really looking forward to moving off Telecom. I might have to go back sadly :(

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