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Spark puts heartland NZ at forefront of 5G rollout

18 Nov 2019

Spark has announced a timeline of its plans to roll out 5G services throughout the country, with the goal of launching into New Zealand’s major centres from mid-2020.

Spark switched on 5G wireless broadband in Alexandra back in September 2019, and now it’s time for the next phase of the rollout. Spark will deliver 5G wireless broadband into five more South Island locations before Christmas, followed by other heartland communities from March 2020.

Spark technology director Mark Beder says the company’s 5G rollout is two-fold.

“Firstly, we are advancing our network delivery plans so we can roll out quickly in major centres once the necessary spectrum becomes available. Secondly, we’re innovating by repurposing some of our existing spectrum to deliver 5G wireless broadband in places where it will make a real difference to customers.”

“We are prioritising our activity to heartland locations as we think these are the places that will benefit most from the increased capacity and speed of 5G wireless broadband, and we are excited to be bringing the early benefits of 5G to customers in parts of New Zealand that have  usually lagged well behind the major centres for previous technology rollouts.”

Beder explains that the March 2020 rollout of 5G wireless broadband to heartland locations will leverage existing Spark spectrum bands, as well as Nokia Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment.

Nokia has been a key partner with spark since the 5G launch in Alexandra. Beder says Nokia will also help to roll out the 5G launch before Christmas.

Nokis isn’t the only company that Spark is partnering with to ensure the 5G rollout goes smoothly. It is also partnering with Samsung and Huawei.

Rajesh Singh, Spark’s general manager of value management, says that these three companies are on its roster of preferred RAN equipment suppliers for 5G.  In addition, Spark will continue to use Cisco and Ericsson for separate elements of its existing Network Core, which has already been upgraded to ensure it is Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G capable.

“We’ve consistently said our approach to 5G will be multi-vendor. A key reason for this is that 5G technology is still emerging and is likely to develop significantly in the next few years, so a mix of vendors makes sense,” says Singh.

“As with any network deployment the roll-out of our 5G network is subject to government approval in accordance with the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (TICSA).”

“We have already obtained approval through TICSA to use Nokia 5G RAN equipment for our recently announced deployment in Alexandra, and for our upcoming locations before Christmas,” Singh continues.

“We have withdrawn our original TICSA application, which proposed a single-vendor 5G RAN strategy. We will work through the TICSA approval process in due course with our other RAN vendors, prior to any deployment of their equipment.”