Vodafone NZ comes out swinging against CDMA

Vodafone New Zealand Ltd. is rallying the troops in the face of competitor Telecom New Zealand Ltd.'s aggressive launch last week of its high-speed CDMA (code division multiple access) cellular network.

Vodafone has launched its own high-speed network based on a different technology, GPRS (general packet radio service). Telecom claimed at the network's launch last week that CDMA is a better all-round technology than Vodafone's existing GSM-based network and provides better quality of service for voice users, higher speed for data transfers, cheaper access for all users and can ultimately carry more calls for the same amount of bandwidth.

Vodafone has yet to respond, but an internal e-mail obtained by Computerworld New Zealand, allegedly written by staff member Simon Fogerty, calls for a "united response".

"CDMA is just an attempt to catch up to technology we've been delivering our customers," the e-mail says, and reminds staff that GSM is the "global standard" used by 70 percent of cellular users worldwide. "That's over 500 million people -- versus 90 million CDMA users."

Vodafone refuses to confirm or deny the e-mail's veracity but does confirm Fogerty is a staff member in New Zealand.

The e-mail lists a variety of performance indicators that employees can use to remind "customers, friends and family" that Vodafone is the world's leading mobile company. "Forget the hype, forget the technology, let's look at what Vodafone (GSM) delivers customers."

Telecom says CDMA customers will be able to roam to the U.S. and Australia and that the vast majority of its cellular customers go to these two countries -- it is also working on roaming deals with a number of South East Asian countries. Vodafone customers, the email says, can roam in 70 countries. "CDMAone (Telecom's standard) customers can use their mobiles in four."

Roaming on Vodafone is available to all customers, including prepay, whereas CDMA is only available to contract customers on Telecom.

The e-mail claims that there are nearly twice as many GSM handsets than CDMA equivalents. Vodafone boasts a GSM line up that includes Nokia, Ericsson, Alcatel, Philips and Siemens. Telecom is importing phones from Hyundai, Kyocera and Hitachi in its first wave of CDMA. However, Vodafone has problems sourcing phones for its GPRS network -- to date only Ericsson has provided a handset although Motorola will offer one shortly.

The e-mail ends with a note about carriers such as Singapore's MobileOne and Verizon looking at ditching the CDMA family in favour of GSM solutions.

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