Spark outlines progressive rollout of 5G services for 2020

Mark Beder
Spark NZ

Spark says it will deliver 5G wireless broadband into five more South Island heartland locations prior to Christmas, followed by further heartland communities from March 2020.

A broader range of 5G services, covering both mobile as well as wireless broadband, will launch into major centres from mid 2020, subject to spectrum being made available by the Government.

This builds upon Spark’s announcement in September that it had switched-on the first 5G customer services in New Zealand, with the launch of 5G wireless broadband in Alexandra.

Mark Beder, technology director at Spark, says wireless broadband is the first meaningful use-case for 5G in New Zealand and is the focus for the initial phase of Spark’s 5G rollout.

“Our 5G rollout approach is two-fold,” says Beder, in a statement.

“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.”

Spark NZ
Mark Beder

Beder says Spark NZ is giving priority to heartland locations as these places will benefit most from the increased capacity and speed of 5G wireless broadband.

“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,” he points out.

He says the rollout of 5G wireless broadband to heartland locations from March 2020 will use some of their existing spectrum bands and Nokia Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment.

This, he says, is a continuation of Spark’s partnership with Nokia which assisted with the launch of 5G services in Alexandra.

Nokia will also be Spark’s partner for the other heartland locations that will be launched before the yearend.

Rajesh Singh, GM manager of value management at Spark, says in line with its previously-stated multi-vendor strategy, Spark now has three companies – Nokia, Samsung and Huawei - on its roster of preferred RAN equipment suppliers for 5G.

In addition, he says, 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,” says Singh.

“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.”

Spark points out as with any network deployment the rollout of the 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,” states Singh.

“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.”

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