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Wheelings & Dealings: Vodafone Acquires Ericsson Equipment to Replace Patchwork Network

  By Joe Rizzo, TMCnet Contributing Writer

It would seem that for the past five years, Vodafone (News - Alert) Australia’s core network has been what you would consider to be a collection of equipment that has turned it into a patchwork network. Back in 2009, Vodafone Australia merged with Hutchinson 3G, forming the creation of Vodafone Hutchinson Australia.

Unfortunately, what this led to was the joining of equipment from both companies that ultimately resulted in what has been referred to as a patchwork network. This has also had another unfortunate result. Apparently, this is being looked at as the reason that in 2010 Vodafone customers were cancelling their contracts by the thousands.

In an effort to rectify the situation, Vodafone announced this week that it has entered into a partnership with Ericsson (News - Alert). The goal of this union is to essentially enhance its entire core network. This is something that has to happen in order for Vodafone’s plans to advance its Voice over LTE (News - Alert) (VoLTE) program.

According to the agreement, the two companies have entered into a five year pact to complete the upgrade. This will be accomplished when Vodafone deploys Ericsson’s evolved packet core (EPC) and IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) equipment. In addition, Vodafone will use Ericsson’s equipment with its policy control and circuit switched core solutions. Along with integrated services, this should give Vodafone the ability to switch to the VoLTE network.

If all goes as planned, the idea is that the solutions from Ericsson will turn Vodafone’s patchwork network into a system that will give it a competitive edge over its competitors. One of the nice features of VoLTE is that its customers can maintain not only voice, but also data connectivity throughout the duration of the call. The network will also be able to support IP services, including video calling, messaging and file sharing.

Inaki Berroeta, who is Vodafone Australia’s chief executive, said, "There are significant changes needed for the core now because of LTE and we're working on switches that can provide Voice over LTE as well."

Berroeta’s comments were followed by Vodafone’s chief technology officer, Benpoit Hanssen, when he explained, "Our choice of Ericsson's technology and service is an essential part of VHA's program to increase our network performance and customer satisfaction."

It would appear that Vodafone is serious about improving its networks. In addition to this week’s agreement, the two companies have also signed a similar five year agreement, last week, for Ericsson to upgrade Vodafone’s India’s network. The new system would be used to manage the close to 75 million Indian customers’ pre-paid charging system.

Another benefit that these upgrades will offer to Vodafone’s customers is the ability to process calls over 4G networks, which can be accomplished at lower costs while at the same time, using lesser spectrum. Seems like a sort of a win/win situation. Hopefully, by making HD voice calling available through the network, this would also lead to an improved customer experience.

In general, the more that people have, the more they want. That expression is especially true in the mobile world. Faster 4G and LTE speeds have led to faster downloads, smoother data streaming and the demand for even more. A patchwork network is never going to be able to accomplish any of this, on the other hand, a reliable, sound network will be able to offer Vodafone customers all that they will need. That is of course, until they need more.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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