Spark on track to launch 5G in 2020

10 Aug 2018

New Zealand operator Spark has announced it is on track to launch 5G services in 2020.

The company has published a briefing paper [PDF] outlining its 5G intentions and providing recommendations on policy considerations for lawmakers.

According to the paper, Spark plans to initially bring 5G to built up urban areas, because the spectrum that will be made initially available will be unsuitable for New Zealand's sparsely populated rural areas, the paper states.

Once low band sub 1000-MHz spectrum is also allocated for 5G – the New Zealand government has proposed using the 600-MHz band – Spark will explore a range of options, including network sharing, to ensure a rapid network expansion as widely as possible.

“We are undertaking detailed planning to ‘map’ expected 5G cell site densities in New Zealand and, as a result of this planning (and the learnings we have taken from our 5G testing), we are forming a good understanding of how many new sites we will need for 5G, and where,” Spark managing director Simon Moutter said.

“We have already begun a build program to increase the number of cell sites in our existing mobile network – which will enable us to meet near-term capacity demand as well as lay the groundwork for network densification required for 5G.”

Moutter called on the government to complete the allocation processes for mid-frequency C-band and high-frequency mmWave band 5G spectrum as soon as possible, so 5G services can be delivered in time for the 2020-21 America’s Cup in Auckland.

The whitepaper also outlines Spark's plans to launch a 5G Innovation Lab in Auckland late this year to allow partner companies to test and develop applications over a pre-commercial 5G network.

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