Monday, 13 November 2017 02:30

Spark NZ edges towards 5G mobile with Invercargill 4.5G going live

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New Zealand telco Spark says Invercargill has become the 25th mobile site capable of achieving the fastest mobile data speeds in the country, with 4.5G now switched on in three sites across the city.

The three 4.5G capable towers are located at Heidelberg, Waikiwi and in central Invercargill, and Spark, New Zealand’s largest telco, says the launch follows other towns such as Thames, Waihi, Cromwell, Christchurch CBD, along with the activation of a cluster of five towers in Queenstown now making a total of over 25 sites, with more to follow.

According to Spark, the upgrade means its network is slightly ahead of devices, with no commercially available modems or phones fully supporting the entire range and combination of 4.5G features at the moment.

But, Spark says most new high-end phones support many 4.5G features, with the potential to propel their speeds to between three and five times faster than regular 4G.

The telco says the launch will also deliver plenty of new capacity, allowing Invercargill residents to benefit from wireless broadband as an alternative to fixed-line services for low to moderate data users of home broadband.

Spark’s general manager of Networks, Colin Brown, says the deployment is an important stepping stone to 5G, which is likely to become commercially available sometime in the next few years.

“4.5G is an important part of our strategy because it helps us prepare for a 5G future today, keeping up with the changes in the ways people will use wireless technology over the next few years. Because 4.5G combines a range of radio spectrum and uses it more efficiently, we can provide more capacity and speed to our customers, allowing them to do more," he said.

“With 25 mobile sites with 4.5G, we can offer our customers in those towns more capacity and faster speeds.”

Spark has also announced it will begin trials of an LTE Cat-M1 (M1) network this month, ahead of delivering a commercial network early in 2018.

The telco says this new Internet of Things capability will run on its core 4G network, covering 95% of the places where New Zealanders live, work and play.

Spark’s general manager for IoT, Michael Stribling, said, “M1 is a secure, high-quality network, ideal where sensors and devices are transferring large amounts of data regularly and real-time access to that data is critical.

“We’re working with customers on a broad range of use cases for M1, driven by its nationwide coverage and high performance. Great examples include vehicle telematics, smart metering, smart health devices and smart cities applications such as lighting and environmental monitoring.

“We’re excited about the possibilities of IoT and what it’ll enable New Zealanders to do, and we’re now close to having a market-ready service that’ll help bring those possibilities to life.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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