In February, Vodafone CEO, Nigel Dews, conceded the company had failed its customers with poor network coverage and announced an ambitious upgrade plan.
Chinese communications vendor, Huawei, will be fitting out Vodafone’s 5800 2G base stations with 3G equipment which can eventually be upgraded to LTE.
Huawei network equipment will also be installed at over 2200 new base stations over the next 18 months.
Out of the 44 base station scheduled to be upgraded from Ourimbah, through Newcastle and also Springvale in the Hunter Valley, five will be fitted with new equipment on April 19.
All base stations are expected to carry the new Huawei gear by May 3 and Vodafone will test and optimise the equipment in subsequent weeks.
A two-hour outage is expected for areas covered by base stations that are being upgraded.
Vodafone will send out SMS alerts to all affected 2G voice and 3G mobile broadband customers.
Most 3G voice services and emergency services calls should not be affected.
Progressive updates will be provided by the telco and the plan is to minimise disruption to customers.
“The changes to our network equipment will happen overnight, but the actual improvements in network performance and experience will take a couple of months to be fully realised,” Vodafone CTO, Michael Young, said in a statement.
“Customers in upgraded areas can expect to see stronger coverage and greater reliability from the Vodafone network, and ultimately - as we continue to introduce other new technologies and capacity into the network throughout the year – they will experience better indoor coverage and faster data speeds.”
Vodafone had suffered from an embarrassing backlash from customers that were not satisfied with the company’s network and customer service.
There were calls for more transparency from the telco in terms of informing customer of faults and demand for better network coverage as well as performance.
Vodafone and Hutchinson, the parent company of 3 Mobiles, merged in 2009.