Vodafone New Zealand has switched on 5G in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
At an event in Wellington, Mana Williams from youth advisory non-profit VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, a partner of the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s charitable arm, officially turned on the Vodafone 5G network alongside Thaigan Govender, lead engineer on the 5G project .
“This is just the beginning of a new technology era for New Zealand,” says Jason Paris, Vodafone New Zealand CEO.
“We expect Vodafone New Zealand customers using 5G to experience mobile download speeds of potentially five to 10 times the current 4G speeds.
“This means Kiwis can download large files like movies much more quickly and start to experience a new world of entertainment such as cloud-based gaming – while businesses can further innovate with new technologies and connected devices,” says Paris.
“5G is our most powerful tool yet that will make the ‘life remotes’ in our pocket even more essential.”
He explains the fifth generation network will mean cities and communities can become more connected, smarter, safer and healthier.
“5G represents greater speed, latency, capacity and security – as well as an enhanced internet of things,” he says. “If 4G was ‘the era of the smartphone’, 5G will be the ‘era of connected everything’.”
To access 5G, Kiwis need a 5G device from Vodafone New Zealand or selected New Zealand retailers, a Vodafone 5G Ready plan and be in a 5G coverage area.
Early 5G use cases
Two of the first New Zealand 5G use cases were shown at the Wellington event.
Rob Cochrane, CIO at NZ Police, presented a 5G-enabled drone that can take 4K quality video and feed it back instantly to police officers on the ground.
“5G technology will really help us keep New Zealanders safe,” says Cochrane.
“While drone footage over a 4G connection is useful, with a 5G network connection, the quality improves dramatically, meaning we can scan the environment allowing a faster response to keep the community safe.”
Hamilton-based artificial intelligence company, Aware Group, demonstrated a 5G tool for retailers.
“We’ve developed a plug-and-play retail optimisation solution that gives business owners a heat map of how people are interacting with products in their stores,” says Jourdan Templeton, chief technology officer at Aware Group.
“While some of this you can do this over 4G, it now becomes cost-effective with 5G due to the ability to use cloud-based storage enabled by the higher network capacity and greater processing speeds.”
Vodafone says it will continue to build the 5G network over the coming few years, adding Nokia 5G technology to more than 1,500 existing cell sites around the country – up from the initial 100 cell sites that are now live.
“This is day one of our live 5G network and we will continue our work to bring the best connectivity and technology solutions to New Zealanders,” explains Tony Baird, chief technology officer, Vodafone NZ.
“We’re using 3.5GHz spectrum to launch 5G, and our current radio spectrum holdings will mean that Vodafone customers see an uplift of up to 10 times current 4G speeds.
“However, to reach the one gigabit speeds that we’re seeing internationally, we’ll need approximately 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum so will continue to work with the government on the early allocation and auction processes.”
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