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Technology and resources

Network infrastructure

Vodafone’s network infrastructure provides the means of delivering the Group’s mobile and fixed voice, messaging and data services to its customers. The Group’s customers are linked via the access part of the network, which connects to the core network that manages the set-up and routing of calls, transfer of messages and data connections, which provide a wide variety of other services.

The Group’s mobile network technologies


Vodafone operates 2G networks in all of its mobile operating subsidiaries, through global system for mobile (‘GSM’) networks, offering customers services such as voice, text messaging and basic data services. In addition, all of the Group’s controlled networks operate general packet radio services (‘GPRS’), often referred to as 2.5G. GPRS allows mobile devices to be used for sending and receiving data over an IP based network and enabling data service offers such as internet and email access. In a number of networks, Vodafone also provides an advanced version of GPRS called enhanced data rates for GSM evolution (‘EDGE’). These networks provide download speeds of over 200 kilobits per second (‘kbps’) to Vodafone’s customers.


Vodafone’s 3G networks operating the wideband code division multiple access (‘W-CDMA’) standard, provide customers with an optimised data access experience. Vodafone has continued to expand its service offering on 3G networks, now offering high speed internet and email access, video telephony, full track music downloads, mobile TV and other data services in addition to existing voice and basic data connectivity services.

High speed packet access (‘HSPA’)

HSPA is a 3G wireless technology enhancement enabling significant increases in data transmission speeds. It provides increased mobile data traffic capacity and improves the customer experience through the availability of 3G broadband services and significantly shorter data transfer times. The Group has now deployed the 3.6 mega bits per second (‘Mbps’) peak speed evolution of high speed downlink packet access (‘HSDPA’) across almost all of its 3G networks and also completed the introduction of the 7.2 Mbps peak speed in key areas. The figures are theoretical peak rates deliverable by the technology in ideal radio conditions with no customer contention for resources. While HSDPA focuses on the downlink (network to mobile), high speed uplink packet access (‘HSUPA’) focuses on the uplink (mobile to network) and peak speeds of up to 1.4 Mbps on the uplink have now been widely introduced across most of the Group’s 3G networks.

Current developments in the infrastructure

As growth in data traffic accelerates with the proliferation in, and adoption of, web services, Vodafone is evolving its infrastructure through a range of initiatives.

Access network evolution

Vodafone is actively driving additional 3G data technology enhancements to further improve the customer’s experience, including evolutions of HSPA technology to upgrade both the downlink and uplink speeds. Vodafone has successfully trialled evolutions of mobile broadband technology achieving actual peak data download rates of up to 16 Mbps and 21 Mbps, which corresponds to theoretical peak rates of 21.6 Mbps and 28.8 Mbps, respectively. Vodafone expects to deploy uplink speeds of around 2 Mbps in a limited number of areas in Europe during the 2010 financial year.

Vodafone has continued to expand its fixed broadband footprint in accordance with the Group’s total communications strategy, by building its own network and/or using wholesale arrangements in 12 countries at 31 March 2009.

Transmission network evolution

Vodafone continues to upgrade its access transmission infrastructure from the base stations to the core switching network to deal with the increasing bandwidth demands in the access network and data dominated traffic mix, driven by HSDPA and fixed broadband. The Group has continued to pursue a strategy of implementing scaleable and cost effective self build solutions and is also leveraging its DSL interests by backhauling data traffic onto more cost effective DSL transport connections. In the core transmission network, the Group has continued to expand its high capacity optical fibre infrastructure, including technology enhancements, which enable the use of cost effective IP technology to achieve high quality carrier grade transport of both voice and data traffic.

Core network evolution

The Group has now consolidated ten national IP networks into a single IP backbone, including the key European markets, centralising IP operations to avoid duplication and achieve simplicity and flexibility in the deployment of new services to serve multiple markets. The Group has continued to expand the deployments of IP multimedia subsystem (‘IMS’) infrastructure across its markets in order to serve the increasing demand for advanced internet based services and applications.