Vodafone launches 4G service

4G mobile service available in parts of Auckland now, with Christchurch and Wellington to follow later in the year

Vodafone has launched a 4G mobile network which is initially available in about 30 percent of Auckland but will be extended to cover more of Auckland and parts of Christchurch and Wellington later this year.

According to Vodafone the 4G service is up to 10 times faster than standard 3G services without dual carrier. This means a book can be downloaded in less than a second, or a music album in less than three seconds, the telco says.

The 4G service will go live in parts of Christchurch in May, and parts of Wellington in August or September.

Vodafone says six 4G-capable devices are available now -- including the Apple iPhone 5, HTC Windows Phone 8X and Samsung Galaxy Note II 4G variant -- and more than a dozen 4G-capable devices will be available by the middle of the year.

Russell Stanners, CEO of Vodafone New Zealand, says in a press statement that the launch was an "exciting first for Vodafone customers -- and for New Zealand".

"4G is the network that the best smartphones were made for, meaning you can access all the information and entertainment you want in real time -- and connect faster than ever before," he says.

Phone users will need a 4G-capable device and sign up for a qualifying plan to make use of the 4G services. Vodafone says that 4G devices will automatically switch to Vodafone's next fastest 3G speeds when users leave the 4G coverage area.

Vodafone's 4G network build is being carried out in partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks.

Rival operator Telecom began trialling 4G with about 100 customers, including Westpac, Mitre 10, Television New Zealand and Hutt Valley District Health Board, in Auckland and Wellington this month.

It has upgraded 30 cell sites to support the technology, but has indicated it will not launch a commercial service until late in the year.