The telco urged the government to accelerate plans to allocate 5G spectrum
New Zealand telecom operator Spark announced what it claims to be the country’s first live 5G mobile test site in Wellington. The 5G trial used equipment and technical support from Chinese vendor Huawei. It will test speeds, coverage and the parameters of the spectrum in a real-world environment, and run throughout March connecting equipment in a specialized vehicle drive-testing the streets of Wellington.
“We intend to be at the forefront of deploying this technology in New Zealand once the required spectrum is made available. We want to be ahead of the pack in preparing for it, testing it, in deploying it, and we want to be the partner of choice for all of those New Zealand businesses who are starting to think about its uses in their industry,” Spark’s Managing Director Simon Moutter said. “We’ve fast-tracked our plans and are committed to creating a 5G Lab in Auckland later this year, where customers can work with us to truly understand how 5G will change their lives and businesses.”
Spark Chief Operating Officer Mark Beder confirmed that the company aims to launch 5G technology in New Zealand as soon as the spectrum is available. “We’re pleased to have had the co-operation and assistance of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment who were able to provide access to temporary spectrum to make this trial happen. Industry and government partnerships will be crucial to ensuring New Zealand achieves the full benefits of 5G opportunities as soon as possible, and we will be working closely with the Government to outline our future spectrum requirements,” he said.
New Zealand’s Communications Minister Clare Curran said she would take proposals to the cabinet later this year on the process and timing for allocating 5G spectrum.
In December last year, New Zealand’s wholesale network operator Chorus said that the country should construct a single 5G mobile system which can be shared by all mobile providers.
Chorus’ CEO Kate McKenzie said that it would not be sustainable for the country’s three mobile network operators Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees to roll out separate networks due to the amount of investment needed. She added that New Zealand risked being left behind if 5G rollouts are left to market forces, and is calling on the government to begin formulating plans now for a shared deployment of 5G infrastructure.
Spark rejected Chorus’ proposition arguing that consumers have benefited from competition between the three mobile network providers in 3G and 4G services, and there was no reason why the same should not apply to the next generation of cellular.
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