Australia’s second largest capital city, Melbourne is known best for its café culture, comedy scene, and AFL fanaticism. Perhaps it’s no surprise that for six consecutive years, Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city by the Economist Intelligent Unit.
To match the liveability of the city, basic utilities such as network connections need to be up to scratch.
For Vodafone, this means constantly improving our network coverage and capacity. Kevin Biles, Vodafone Regional Manager Access Networks Western Region, told Red Wire that while Vodafone was named as having the best aggregate voice and data performance in all of Australia’s capital cities in the recent CommsDay P3 Mobile Benchmark results, we still have more work to do in metro Melbourne and surrounding regions, including ski fields and holiday hotspots like the Great Ocean Road, Gippsland, and Philip Island.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is to increase our ‘class service’ across the Melbourne area. We have a ranking of class service from one to five, with five being the best. It’s our aspiration for our customers to have conversations without interruption, and deliver data through various means at average speeds of 5MB/s and more during a busy hour period. What that means for customers is to do things like stream Netflix, and use Skype and Spotify – all the normal things people use their phones nowadays,” he says.
Painting the town red
Vodafone’s network will be put to test while Melbourne plays host to the 2017 International Comedy Festival, which attracts large crowds, and a considerable number of Vodafone customers. On whether Vodafone’s network will be be prepared for the large spike in traffic, Biles assures users will continue to have a seamless experience and see average speeds of 20MB/s, depending on a user’s handset.
“The vast majority of venue locations for the festival are covered already; we’re confident customers will get the same experience as they normal would expect from our network. For major events, we typically have indoor coverage solutions in place, or for an example, the Melbourne Town Hall, we recently sent engineers to verify the coverage.”
But supporting special events is not unfamiliar work for the team. A few weeks ago, Vodafone delivered Cell on Wheels (COWS) out at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. Biles explains the COWS ensured both local and international visitors to the event could get the “best possible experience” during the event.
Vodafone recently signed a partnership with SkyBus, the free airport shuttle service that transports people to and from Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport and the CBD, to offer those on board access to free Wi-Fi – irrespective of whether they’re a Vodafone customer or not.
Another project that will be top on mind for Vodafone over the few years is improving network coverage and capacity along Melbourne’s train and tram routes. According to Biles, Vodafone began reviewing and improving network performances along the railway routes within Melbourne metro two years ago and plans to shift the focus on tram routes.
But in any case, whether it’s about supporting a special event or just Melbourne’s general coverage, Biles says Vodafone engineers are constantly on the ground running tests to ensure users receive the optimum experience. He admits that at the recent Adele concert held at the Etihad Stadium, he even convinced some of the Vodafone retail staff who attended to keep him posted on their network experiences during the show!
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