Vodafone Germany in race to deploy rural LTE network

Having mentioned two weeks ago that it was considering the deployment of LTE services in rural areas, Vodafone Germany has set the pace by announcing it will start upgrading base stations as early as September.

The company, which has selected Ericsson and Huawei as its technology partners, said that it planned to have upgraded around 1,500 base stations by the end of 2011 in rural areas without access to broadband services. Vodafone Germany, which invested €1.21 billion to license 12 blocks of spectrum in the country's recent auction, is obliged to now use the 800 MHz band to expand coverage into underserved areas.

This move, if the schedule is adhered to, will put the company ahead of its main rival, T-Mobile, and increase the pressure on O2 to react.

This announcement also positions Vodafone Germany--which has recently been deploying HSDPA technology in several test regions--as the LTE pioneer within the group. Its progress will be closely monitored by other Vodafone subsidiaries, and rival operators.

The selection of Ericsson and Huawei is a major boost for both companies in their battle for supremacy in the LTE infrastructure market, leaving NSN in the cold. While Ericsson has strong credentials in LTE, Vodafone Germany has been testing the technology more recently with Huawei.

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