Story image

Spark details 5G rollout plans

09 Aug 18

Spark has outlined how it is on track to start providing 5G services to New Zealand consumers and businesses from 2020 in a paper published today.

5G is the fifth generation of wireless communications technology, which has begun being rolled out around the world.

Managing director Simon Moutter says that Spark’s technical and network planning for 5G is advancing after successfully conducting outdoor and indoor trials earlier this year.

“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. We have already begun a build programme 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 says 5G will enable Spark to provide additional capacity at a lower incremental unit cost than under 4G and 4.5G.

“This means that once 5G is available to deploy, we will have a strong commercial incentive to rapidly build 5G network capability as the primary means of keeping ahead of growing customer demand for more data at faster speeds.”

As Spark’s network spend will be diverted from 4G capacity expansion into 5G as soon as the necessary spectrum is available, it expects to fund 5G network development (excluding spectrum and any material move towards widespread rollout of new cell sites using high-frequency mmWave band spectrum) within its existing capital expenditure envelope of 11%-12% of revenues.

By 2020, Spark expects its wireless-network specific capex to be between 25%-35% of Spark’s overall capital expenditure envelope, up from 25% in the year ended June 30, 2017.

In late 2018, it will launch a 5G Innovation Lab in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct that will allow partner companies to test and develop applications over a pre-commercial 5G network.

Moutter notes that Spark is already making decisions that are contingent on securing additional 5G spectrum and is having to make those decisions in the absence of any clear government policy on when that spectrum will be available or in what bands.

He says the allocation processes for the two most likely spectrum bands – mid frequency C-band and high-frequency mmWave band - should be completed as soon as possible, to ensure 5G services can be delivered in time for the 2020-21 America’s Cup in Auckland as an international showcase opportunity.

In addition to these bands, low-frequency spectrum (below 1000MHz) will be required to deliver 5G services on a pervasive basis into rural areas (outside of small provincial towns).

The Government’s current work to define 600MHz spectrum as a band for potential 5G use should continue at pace.

Moutter adds that it is important for policymakers to recognise 5G is not a standalone technology or solution.

It will operate together with previous generations of wireless technology and will be deployed as an overlay of existing network infrastructure.

Therefore, policy settings need to support network operators having control over the evolution of their wireless networks.

The current competitive market model, in which multiple wireless network operators compete against one another to grow their customer bases through product and service innovation and pricing, represents a good blueprint for the way 5G can be rolled out in New Zealand and would provide for more investment predictability and certainty over the coming decade, Moutter says.

Report finds GCSB in compliance with NZ rights
The Inspector-General has given the GCSB its compliance tick of approval for the fourth year in a row.
Preparing for e-invoicing requirements
The New Zealand and Australian governments are working on a joint approach to create trans-Tasman standards to e-invoicing that’ll make it easier for businesses in both countries work with each other and across the globe
5c more per share: Trade Me bidding war heats up
Another bidder has entered the bidding arena as the potential sale of Trade Me kicks up a notch.
Hootsuite's five social trends marketers should take note of
These trends should keep marketers, customer experience leaders, social media professionals and executives awake at night.
Company-X celebrates ranking on Deloitte's Fast 500 Asia Pacific
Hamilton-based software firm Company-X has landed a spot on Deloitte Technology’s Fast 500 Asia Pacific 2018 ranking - for the second year in a row.
Entrepreneur reactivates business engagement in AU Super funds
10 million workers leave it up to employers to choose their Super fund for them – and the majority of employers are just as passive and unengaged at putting that fund to work.
Tether: The Kiwi startup fighting back against cold, damp homes
“Mould and mildew are the new asbestos. But unlike asbestos, detecting the presence – or conditions that encourage growth – of mould and mildew is nearly impossible."
Capitalising on exponential IT
"Exponential IT must be a way of life, not just an endpoint."