Spark switches on New Zealand's first live 5G test site

20 Mar 2018

New Zealand incumbent Spark has kicked off a 5G trial in Wellington, making it the country’s first mobile carrier to do so.

In a statement, Spark said the first live 5G test was carried out in Wellington on a temporary spectrum provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Media, Clare Curran, was the first member of the public to achieve speeds of over 9Gbps. That’s more than nine times faster than the maximum speeds available to consumers with residential fixed-line fiber and 90 times faster than the most common broadband speed of 100Mbps, the company said.

The 5G trial was carried out on the Stout Street Exchange Building, directly across from Parliament, using gears from Spark’s technology partner Huawei Technologies.

The trial will continue throughout the month of March and connects with equipment in a specialized vehicle which will be testing along the streets of Wellington’s CBD.

According to Spark, 5G-enabled devices will be offered by manufacturers in late 2018.

“Many people have now heard of concepts like self-driving cars, smart cities, virtual and augmented reality. Unleashing the full potential of these concepts will require a fast wireless network with a super-fast response time,” Spark managing director Simon Moutter said.

“5G will deliver significantly faster speeds and more capacity than previous mobile technology and will support the connectivity of multiple devices with very low response times. It will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of connecting almost everything.”

As part of its efforts to accelerate 5G deployment, Spark plans to open a 5G Lab in Auckland later this year.

Spark chief operating officer Mark Beder said the operator intend to deploy 5G in New Zealand as soon as the required spectrum is made 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,” Beder said.

“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.”

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